It was an odd feeling walking into Qualcomm Stadium yesterday.
The typical misplaced brashness from the Charger fan base was missing. There was no smack talking in the parking lot at all, and the nerves I usually have walking into that place weren’t nearly as prominent.
For the Broncos and their fans this was a business trip. No need to get overly excited for this one when there are bigger things coming on the horizon.
Judging by the fact the stadium was half-filled with people wearing orange and blue, Charger fans weren’t very excited for this game either.
It was as if everyone knew what was going to happen and they had already made peace with it. Sure, every game is tough, especially divisional games on the road. But it felt like there was a script for this one and we were all just going through the motions.
When all was said and done the 28-20 Denver victory was inevitable. The Chargers made a run late in the game which made the score look closer than it was, and Denver strained a bit late to finally put it away, but the Broncos got the win they came for and flew home with an 8-1 record and the meat of their schedule right in front of them.
The Broncos were here to take care of business. Mission accomplished.
Here are some thoughts on Denver’s win over the Chargers:
- First things first, we have to talk about Peyton Manning. He’s been playing a little banged up the last few weeks and it looked like he reinjured his ankle on the fourth-quarter throw that iced the game. It’s no secret that the Broncos’ fate starts and ends with Manning, so hopefully the MRI scheduled for later today comes back negative. The fingers are crossed in Broncos Country. As long as there isn’t a serious injury Manning will be on the field this Sunday and he’ll play well.
- It looked to me like the Chargers’ players were intentionally diving at Manning’s legs yesterday. This was especially evident on the play that left him limping. It will be interesting to see if the NFL hands out any discipline for those low hits (hits that should be penalized since the installation of the Brady Rule).
- The player of the game had to be Demaryius Thomas. He registered 108-yards receiving and three of Denver’s four total touchdowns. It looked like the defense was moving in slow motion on his 34-yard screen pass he took to the house in the third quarter. It’s crazy how easy he makes it look.
- The only reason the game was even remotely close came down to turnovers. Denver didn’t force a single one and the San Diego strip-sack of Manning gifted the Chargers seven points that gave them life in the second half. The Chargers had a very conservative game plan and were content with running the ball and using up the clock. That limited the opportunities for the Denver defense to make a game-changing play which would have ended things much earlier.
- Even though they didn’t force a turnover you have to give the defense credit for holding San Diego to three field goal attempts. The Chargers managed two touchdowns all day and one came on a very short field after the Manning fumble. Denver only gave up one real touchdown drive and that didn’t happen until the fourth quarter. The defense is finding their groove and they ended up with 4 sacks and 5 hits on Philip Rivers.
- Rivers finished the game with 218-yards passing and one touchdown. The days when he used to torch the Broncos are a distant memory.
- I thought it was a nice gesture that CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie gave ex-Charger Quentin Jammer the honorary start in his place against his old team. Clearly that was a big win for ex-Chargers such as Louis Vasquez, Shaun Phillips and Jammer.
- Up next is the game we’ve all been waiting for. The Broncos welcome the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday night for a primetime game at Mile High. The winner leaves with first place in the AFC West. Go Broncos!