The last time the Broncos and Chargers were on the same field, loose footballs were at a premium.
Denver forced four fumbles in its 34-23 Week 6 win over San Diego at Qualcomm Stadium. Most crucial of those miscues was a late-third quarter strip by Elvis Dumervil that landed in the hands of Vonnie Holliday.
Leading 24-23, the Broncos converted the turnover into a Matt Prater 50-yard field goal, and the Chargers were held scoreless the rest of the way. Come Sunday at INVESCO Field at Mile High, Mario Haggan sees those types of errors again tipping the balance.
“The game is predicated on mistakes,” Haggan said. “Hopefully on Sunday, they make more mistakes than we do and we come out on top.”
Stripping the ball will be a tough task this week against Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson. The nine-year veteran has fumbled only two times in his last 722 carries.
Tomlinson also put his game into a higher gear last week, recording a season-high 96 rushing yards against the Eagles. While the member of the 10,000-yard rushing club has yet to record a 100-yard rushing game in 2009, Brian Dawkins sees no signs of Tomlinson slowing down.
“I know that that is not the truth,” Dawkins said. “I look at him on film and still see him making the same cuts and stopping on the dime and leaving people standing right there in their shoes while he is going the other way. I see those same things happening on the football field from him.”
Since that Oct. 19 game, the Broncos have forced a total of two fumbles in their three losses to the Ravens, Steelers and Redskins. One was recovered by rookie Robert Ayers against Pittsburgh for a 54-yard go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter.
To snap the three-game skid, Haggan said one great play will not be enough to make a difference.
“Other teams just made more plays than we have,” Haggan said. “There’s no rhyme or reason that I can point to as a player. Just that we need to make more plays and that when the clock hits zero, we need to be on top.”
Kyle Orton (ankle) was among five Broncos who did not participate in practice on Wednesday. Josh Barrett (hamstring), Ryan Harris (toe), LaMont Jordan (back) and Brandon Marshall also did not practice. Correll Buckhalter (knee) and Brandon Lloyd (foot) had limited participation in the session.
The Elias Sports Bureau has credited Dumervil with an extra half-sack in last Sunday’s game against the Redskins. He now has 12 on the season and still leads the league.
Here are some photos from the start of Wednesday’s practice. More to come in a top story that will be posted later this evening.
– Chris Gentilviso, DenverBroncos.com