Charg­ers stun Bron­cos

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Den­ver

Pey­ton Man­ning wanted more rest. He got plenty on Thurs­day night thanks to Philip Rivers and a San Diego de­fense that slowed down Man­ning and handed the Bron­cos an un­ex­pected and harm­ful loss.

Rivers threw two touch­down passes to Keenan Allen and kept the Charg­ers’ of­fense on the field for nearly 39 min­utes in a 27-20 stun­ner over the Bron­cos, whose easy road to the AFC West ti­tle and top seed­ing in the con­fer­ence got an un­ex­pected jolt.

Dis­or­ga­nized on de­fense and never able to crank things up on of­fense, the Bron­cos gained 13 yards on the 13 plays they ran af­ter tak­ing a 10-3 lead late in the first quar­ter. That cov­ered four fruit­less drives dur­ing which they went three-and-out three times and picked up a to­tal of one first down.

“The longer you keep the ball and the less he has it, the bet­ter off you are go­ing to be,” said Charg­ers coach Mike McCoy, Man­ning’s for­mer of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

Rivers fin­ished 12 for 20 for 166 yards in im­prov­ing to 28- 6 in De­cem­ber. Ryan Matthews matched his sea­son high with 127 yards on 29 car­ries.

Af­ter Den­ver’s long, dry spell on of­fense, San Diego led 24- 10, and though the Bron­cos (11-3) had over­come dou­ble- digit deficits four times this sea­son to win, it wasn’t hap­pen­ing this time.

They pulled within seven and Man­ning got the ball on the Den­ver three with 5: 50 left. He moved the Bron­cos 30 yards in two plays with the help of a penalty. But the Charg­ers’ maligned de­fense pro­duced some pass rush and forced a bad throw, which line­backer Thomas Keiser picked off at the Den­ver 33.

The Charg­ers ( 7- 7) got a field goal to go up 10. Den­ver an­swered with a field goal but couldn’t re­cover the on­side kick and the Bron­cos lost to an AFC West foe for the first time in 11 games.

Man­ning’s fi­nal num­bers were de­cent — 27 for 41 for 289 yards and two touch­downs — but padded dur­ing des­per­a­tion time.

As most vet­er­ans do, es­pe­cially this time of year, he griped about the short turn­around be­tween a Sun­day and Thurs­day game, the likes of which ev­ery team has to make at least once ev­ery sea­son.

Now, he will get 10 days to rest and chew on this loss — the first reg­u­lar-sea­son de­feat at home for Den­ver in 14 tries, dat­ing to last Septem­ber against Houston, back when Man­ning was still get­ting his foot­ing in Den­ver and the Tex­ans, who hap­pen to be Den­ver’s next op­po­nent, were still good.

“They ob­vi­ously did a bet­ter job get­ting ready on a short week than we did,” Bron­cos coach John Fox said.

Den­ver’s pre­vi­ous low in scor­ing was 27 points against the Chiefs.

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