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San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos 12/12/13 NFL Score, Recap, News and Notes

Final Score: San Diego Chargers 27, Denver Broncos 20

December 12, 2013

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Kicking off the Week 15 action on “Thursday Night Football” we had a pretty compelling matchup between the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos. With the NFL regular season winding down--and this being the final Thursday night installment of the year--this game carried some heavy playoff implications that will certainly be felt over the next few weeks. The Chargers and Broncos usually put together some pretty entertaining games, and that’s exactly how this one went down--though the final outcome wasn’t what most people expected.
Let’s check in on some of the key players and statistics from the game so that we can see why things played out the way they did. Afterward, we’ll also look forward to Week 16 so that we can see what’s in store for both teams.

What Happened: If there’s a blueprint for beating Peyton Manning and the Broncos, the Chargers followed it to the letter by controlling the clock and dominating the ground game. Things started out innocently enough, with the Broncos scoring first on a 15-yard TD pass from Peyton Manning to fill-in slot man Andre Caldwell. Each team posted a field goal for a 10-3 Broncos lead after one quarter. In the second, the Chargers came alive with a pair of TD passes from Philip Rivers to Keenan Allen, putting San Diego on top 17-10 and swinging the tide of the game going into halftime.
Denver’s offense couldn’t gain any traction in the third quarter, and the Chargers were able to post the lone score in that period on a 23-yard Ryan Mathews run.
Manning and company got some life in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 5-yard TD pass--this one again to Caldwell--to cut the lead to seven. Peyton got the ball back, but threw a costly interception as the Broncos’ comeback stalled. The teams traded field goals for a 27-20 final score and a shocking Chargers victory.
The win brings San Diego up to 7-7 on the year as they scramble for that last Wild Card slot in the AFC. Denver’s loss drops them to 11-3 and gives the Chiefs new life in hoping for a division title.

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos 12/12/13 NFL Score, Recap, News and Notes

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Stars: The Chargers defense has to get first honors here. They frustrated Manning most of the night with a strong pass rush and excellent run coverage. San Diego surrendered just 297 yards off offense, which is stellar against this Broncos team. Much of the yardage they did give up came in fourth-quarter comeback time.
Ryan Mathews also had a strong game and was key in helping San Diego control the clock. He finished with 127 yards and a TD on 29 carries.
Perhaps the most telling statistic of all was time of possession: the Chargers had it 38:49 as opposed to the Broncos’ 21:11.

The Goats: Denver’s offense stalled out during what little time they did have the ball. They posted just 11 carries for 18 yards in their nonexistent run game, which allowed the Chargers D to focus on the pass. Manning’s final numbers--289 yards, two TD, one pick--were okay, but were padded in the comeback attempt. The late interception was very costly and uncharacteristic.
The flat performance will definitely lead to speculation as to whether or not the Broncos’ heavy offensive workload in Week 14 (91 plays) left them tired and lifeless after the short turnaround.

Injuries: The Broncos had a few key players on the sideline for this one (most notably Wes Welker) and lost DB Kayvon Webster to injury during the game.
The Chargers were relatively healthy, however, with just one player (Johnny Patrick) missing the game.

Outlook: Looking ahead to Week 16, the Chargers have another big divisional game on tap, when the Raiders come to town (Sunday, December 22, 4:25 PM ET on CBS).
As for the Broncos, they’ll hit the road and head down to Houston for a matchup against the Texans (Sunday, December 22, 1:00 PM ET on CBS).

For the latest article updates, follow Andrew on Twitter @SCPAndrew.

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