However, as the Broncos tried to close out the victory, Manning was hit in the right leg above the knee by Chargers defensive end Corey Liuget. Manning limped after the hit, but he stayed in the game. He will have an MRI on Monday, he told reporters.
Manning riddled the Chargers’ defense, throwing for 330 yards and four scores. Demaryius Thomas led all receivers with 108 yards, while Broncos tight end Julius Thomas opened the scoring with a 74-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
The Broncos led 7-6 midway through the second quarter, then pulled clear with three consecutive scoring drives. The second drive in the sequence was especially crushing for the Chargers, as it came after a missed field goal with less than two minutes left in the half. Instead of cutting Denver’s lead to 14-9, San Diego found itself down 21-6 at halftime after a seven-yard Thomas TD.
The Broncos would strike again to start the second half, with Thomas taking a screen pass and striding away for a 34-yard TD. This gave Denver a 28-6 lead early in the third quarter. From here, it appeared the Broncos were home free.
Nevertheless, the banged-up Chargers fought back. Outside linebacker Tourek Williams forced and recovered a Manning fumble, setting up a Danny Woodhead TD catch. Then, Ryan Mathews’ one-yard TD run cut the Broncos’ lead to 28-20 with 10:42 left in the contest.
In the end, the Broncos would hold on. Now, the attention turns to Manning’s health.