The Denver Broncos won their 14th game this season, beating the San Diego Chargers 24-17 on Sunday in a game where the score shouldn’t have been that close. A Fumble, a stupid penalty, bad coverage and a stretch of foot-tripping Field Turf almost let the Chargers back into the game. There was an untimely Interception as well, but it came at the end of the first half, so minimal damage was done.
Still, the Broncos are on their way to host the AFC Championship Game this Sunday by the strength of the team’s Offensive and Defensive Linemen imposing their will and dominating a Division rival. The Broncos were able to rush for 133 total yards, 82 for Knowshon Moreno alone, which was more than San Diego’s 65 total rushing yards. They produced 13 rushing 1st Downs to the Chargers one. Denver went 9-for-13 (69.2%) on 3rd Downs and held the ball for 35:27 during the game. Meanwhile, the Broncos Defense held the Chargers Offense to a 4-for-12 (33.3%) 3rd Down efficiency rate. They also produced 4 Sacks, 4 Tackles For Loss, 5 QB Hits, 9 Hurries and 4 Pass Breakups in 27 dropbacks. Philip Rivers went 18 for 27 for 217 yards and 2 Touchdowns, but 46 of those yards and one Touchdown came as the result of very poor coverage by Quentin Jammer, who was playing in place of Chris Harris jr., who left the game with a torn right ACL.
Denver did not punt for the first time in its playoff history and just the eighth time in NFL postseason history – three of those came with Manning under center.
Matt Prater booted all 5 of his Kickoffs into the End Zone for Touchbacks, so the Chargers were nullified in the Return game. Meanwhile the Broncos added 66 yards on 3 Punt Returns for an astounding 22.0 yard average. They also got 77 yards on 3 Kickoff Returns, a 25.7 average that would have been a 49.3 average with a Touchdown if it weren’t for Omar Bolden’s block in the back. Eric Decker had a chance at a Punt Return Touchdown, but the FieldTurf Tackled him at the 30 yard line. Despite those incidents, Denver won the Special Teams battle as well as the Field Position battle. Their average starting position was the 29 yard line and the Chargers average starting spot (minus the Onside Kick) was the 25.8 yard line.
With 54 receiving yards on Sunday, WR Demaryius Thomas hopped over Bronco legend Haven Moses (314) for 8th place all-time in franchise history in Postseason receiving yards. He is 8 yards behind Steve Watson (7th), 24 yards behind Steve Sewell (6th), needs 72 yards to pass Mark Jackson (5th) and 140 yards to pass Ed McCaffrey for the 4th-most receiving yards.
Wes Welker made his 5th career Postseason TD catch and moved up to the 33rd spot with 724 career receiving yards. He has a chance to move up to the 22nd spot, where Gary Clark is sitting with 826 yards. Wes now has 75 postseason catches, good for 7th all-time. Jerry Rice is 1st with 151 and Reggie Wayne is 17 ahead of Welker with 92.
Peyton Manning moved up in the postseason annals as well. He moved past Brett Favre to the 2nd spot with 506 career Completions and 797 Attempts. Tom Brady leads both categories (566 and 912). Manning also surpassed Joe Montana and Favre for the No. 2 spot all-time in Passing Yards, with 5,909 (Brady-6.147). Peyton broke the tie for 4th place he held with Dan Marino in career Postseason Touchdown passes with his 33rd and 34th on Sunday. Joe Montana (45), Brett Favre (44) and Tom Brady (42) are the three Quarterbacks ahead of him.
Looking ahead to next week’s match up with the New England Patriots, the only concern I have at present, is the next man up to fill Chris Harris Jr.’s cleats. That will be an extremely tall task.
– Kaptain Kirk