The Broncos were in the 12th position in the AFC playoff hunt heading into Week 12 and that made it imperative that they get a win over the Chargers in order to keep realistic playoff hope alive in Denver.
They got that win on Sunday. Teddy Bridgewater ran for one touchdown, threw for another after returning from a leg injury, and the Broncos got a 28-13 win over their AFC West rivals. The result leaves both teams at 6-5 and could drop the Chargers out of playoff position after entering the game in Wild Card position.
Denver will be in Kansas City next Sunday while the Chargers will have to try to find a win in Cincinnati.
Bridgewater’s rushing touchdown opened the scoring in the first quarter and he had the Broncos on the move again when he was knocked out of the game on a hit by Chargers safety Derwin James. The Broncos scored another touchdown on that drive, but struggled to move the ball with Drew Lock and the Chargers got on the board after James picked him off in the second quarter.
Bridgewater returned after the Chargers missed a field goal at the end of their first possession of the second half and failed to move the ball, but Patrick Surtain II picked off Justin Herbert in the end zone to keep the Chargers from putting any points on the board. Bridgewater hooked up with running back Javonte Williams for a pair of big gains to set up a short touchdown pass to Eric Saubert and the Broncos all but iced the game when Surtain returned another interception 70 yards for a touchdown.
Williams had 108 yards from scrimmage and a rushing touchdown while Melvin Gordon ran 16 times for 79 yards. They didn’t produce as much through the air, but they didn’t need to thanks to the work being done in the run game and on defense.
The Chargers started slow on offense — two three-and-outs while the Broncos went out to a 14-0 lead — and they found plenty of ways to shoot themselves in the foot. They had nine penalties for 75 yards, many of which kept the offense from finding any rhythm, to go with the turnovers, a failed fourth down conversion, and the missed field goal. They’ll need to be cleaner against the Bengals if they’re going to come back to Los Angeles with a win.