The Broncos offense has carried them all season, but the yards and points didn’t come so easily against the Chargers on Thursday night.
Denver had three straight three-and-outs in the second quarter, they earned eight fewer first downs than their season average and put up just 20 points thanks to a strong defensive effort from the Chargers. Their own defense could not do the same, leading to a 27-20 loss that sent the inside track to home field advantage in the AFC to New England.
The Chargers held the ball for nearly 40 minutes, converting 6-of-12 third down opportunities and going on long, methodical drives that ate time even if they didn’t result in any points for the visiting team. On top of that, the Broncos committed several blunders that led to penalties for being offside and having too many men on the field. Coach John Fox said after the game that the Chargers did a better job of preparing on a short week, but linebacker Wesley Woodyard doesn’t think that the abbreviated prep time is any excuse.
“They made a lot of plays on third down, and that’s the tale of this game, not getting off the field on third down,” Woodyard said, via ESPN.com. “Thursday night or not, it shouldn’t matter. Any time you step out on that field, you have to put out your full effort, and we fell short of that.”
No one is expecting the Broncos defense to suddenly start carrying the team, but they’ll need to do more than they did on Thursday night for the team to realize its goals this season.