It wasn’t pretty but the San Diego Chargers finally managed to close out a game in the fourth quarter.
Chargers linebacker Jatavis Brown forced and recovered a fumble by Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas and a Hail Mary attempt fell incomplete as San Diego grabbed a 21-13 win over Denver on Thursday night. The victory snapped a 10-game losing streak against AFC West opponents for the Chargers.
After the Broncos scored their first touchdown of the night to close the gap to 21-10, the Chargers promptly went three-and-out to give Denver a chance to further cut into their advantage. C.J. Anderson found the end zone on a fantastic 20-yard catch and run only to have the touchdown called back due to a holding penalty on Russell Okung.
Trevor Siemian was then sacked on the next play and Thomas fumbled on the play after that to significantly hinder Denver’s comeback attempt. The Broncos got a 46-yard field goal from Brandon McManus to trim the lead to eight, 21-13. Jordan Taylor then recovered the onside kick for Denver to keep their hopes alive.
However, Siemian’s desperation heave didn’t reach the end zone and was easily swatted down to give the Chargers the win.
It was a game San Diego had controlled for most the night. The Chargers had the ball for 20:27 in the first half and the Broncos managed just two first downs as the Chargers built a 10-3 lead.
The Chargers were the beneficiaries of great field position throughout the third quarter as Josh Lambo added field goals of 21, 31 and 32 yards to give San Diego a 19-3 advantage. However, it was three straight drives into the Broncos’ red zone that failed to result in touchdowns that would have blown the game wide open.
A holding penalty by Denver in the end zone (called against Max Garcia but really on Okung) made it a 21-3 lead over the Chargers. But given that it was the fourth quarter, that’s when things started to unravel for San Diego.
The ensuing free kick by Denver was punted very short and mishandled by lineman Kenny Wiggins. Shiloh Keo jumped on the ball to give Denver possession near midfield. The Broncos finally were able to march on an 11-play, 66-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Siemian to Bennie Fowler to close the deficit to 21-10.
After a three-and-out, the Broncos were on the move again before Thomas’ fumble.