Thursday Night Football was dictated by the underdog Chargers running rampant against the Broncos and was littered with double-digit penalties against the 2016 Super Bowl Champions. Philip Rivers was poised against the steely Denver defense.
There were too many blunders by the Broncos to remotely qualify them as the same team they were last year. Granted, they aren’t under the leadership and guidance of Peyton Manning anymore, but things were just not working in their favor. A fumble that led to a quick Chargers field goal, a missed Broncos field goal, and multiple failures to convert on 3rd down is what kept the Broncos trailing the entire game. Not to mention the ridiculous amount of holding and false start penalties they racked up all night. The reigning Super Bowl Champs even gave up a safety with a holding call. With that safety, the lead grew to 21-3.
Chargers coach Mike McCoy went into Thursday’s game with his back against the wall. The Chargers were at a 1-4 record for the season, with a series of games full of gaffes and giving up the game in the final quarter. There have been several calls for firing McCoy, and a hard loss to the Broncos would be adding gasoline to the fire.
The Broncos started to gather some momentum after the safety by recovering a punt that was inevitably by yet another holding call against the Denver offense. This was their 9th penalty costing them 83 yards thus far. The Broncos had multiple opportunities to get control of the game but when get a penalty over some dumb mistake like holding. In the second half, they almost lost as many yards to penalties than the actual yards they gained.
The drive finally ended with a Siemian Fowler connection for a 3rd down touchdown, cutting away at the Chargers lead. It took the Broncos 52 minutes to get into the end-zone. Their scoreless quarters were the reason they lost against the Falcons last week, and they were even worse this week. Picking the hardest route to victory and trying to score all your points in the 4th quarter has to start ringing alarm bells for the Broncos offense.
After a sack deep in Chargers territory, the Broncos had a glimmer of hope. Philip Rivers started pacing nervously on the sidelines. Denver almost ran another touchdown through an amazing drive, only to get it negated and pushed back 10 yards for another holding call on the Denver offensive line. This penalty completed deflated the touchdown momentum, and then led to a sack on Siemian, pushing them out of field goal territory.
And then the next play was the biggest turning point in the Chargers season thus far. The Chargers defense (Jatavis Brown) forced a fumble from Demaryius Thomas and gutted the reasonable possibility for a Denver comeback.
After recovering an onside kick, the game turned into a nailbiter. The look on McCoy and Rivers faces watching on as the Broncos could possibly steal another W from the Chargers gave me anxiety. Siemian chucked a hail mary towards the end zone that was batted away and gave the Chargers a much needed win.
The next game for each team will be very pivotal for the rest of their season. The Broncos will have a long week in timeout to think about what they’ve done before they face the Texans at home. The Broncos should easily be able to beat the Texans, especially at home. If they do lose to the Texans at home, you will likely not see them back to defend their Super Bowl championship at the end of the season. The Chargers will also have a nice long break to enjoy their victory before flying out to Atlanta Falcon territory. This will be a high scoring game between the two teams. If the Chargers pull out a W and ground the Falcons, we can assume they have gotten into their groove.
Overall, horrible technical game from the Broncos. Had they not gotten even half the penalties, they would have had over 50 yards throughout the game, another guaranteed touchdown, and no extra 2 points for the Chargers. This isn’t to take away from the Chargers offense, who had a tremendous game against the Denver defense that did alright all things considered. After their next games, the Broncos and Chargers will have a rematch at Denver. Let’s see how much of a difference the rematch will be from the one from Thursday night.