Q3 14:56: The Broncos receive the kickoff to start the second half, and the offense takes over at the 26-yard line after Eddie Royal’s kickoff return. On first down, Knowshon Moreno is wrapped up near the line of scrimmage for no gain. Second down brings a deep pass from Kyle Orton intended for Tony Scheffler, but it is broken up. Flag on the play — pass interference on the defense. That sets up a first down on the Denver 45-yard line.
Q3 13:50: After a six-yard gain on a pass from Orton to Scheffler, Moreno finds a hole for a gain close to the first-down marker — it sets up 3rd-and-1. The handoff goes to Moreno, and there’s no indication whether it’s a first down or not — there are flags all over the field. Two fouls. Illegal shift on the offense, which is declined, and delay of game on the offense for spiking the ball after the play. It’s fourth down, and Brett Kern is in to punt. Darren Sproles is back at his own 10-yard line ready to return. The punt sails into the end zone for a touchback.
Q3 12:34: Brian Dawkins is back in the secondary and Mario Haggan is back in at linebacker as the defense trots onto the field. Andra Davis makes the tackle on first down as LaDainian Tomlinson picks up three yards. On second down, Rivers is nearly sacked by Dumervil before throwing a ball intended for Chris Chambers that falls incomplete. Two flags on the play, both on the Broncos. A holding call on Haggan makes it 1st-and-10 for the Chargers at their own 28-yard line.
Q3 11:40: Philip Rivers is hit in the backfield as he lets go of an incomplete pass. On second down, he finds his fullback Mike Tolbert on a screen pass that picks up 18 yards and a first down.
Q3 10:05: Dawkins and Elvis Dumervil snuff a LaDainian Tomlinson run after just a yard on first down, but Rivers comes back and completes a pass to Chambers for another first down at the Denver 37-yard line.
Q3 8:45: Another one-yard Tomlinson run comes on first down. That’s followed up by an incompletion by Rivers intended for Chambers with Andre’ Goodman in coverage. That makes it 3rd-and-9, and Rivers swings a pass out to Sproles, who is taken down by Wesley Woodyard after a gain of four. On 4th-and-5, Nate Kaeding is in to line up for a 50-yard field goal attempt. He drives it through the uprights, and the Chargers extend their lead by another three points.
CHARGERS 23, BRONCOS 17
Q3 7:57: Eddie Royal is back deep to receive. An update on his performance so far — he’s in fact the second Bronco to return both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the same game. It also happened in the Broncos’ inaugural season, 1960. Back to today’s game — Royal takes it out to the 23-yard line, where the offense will take over on the other side of the TV timeout.
Q3 7:51: Orton finds Brandon Marshall for a 15-yard gain on first down, moving the ball to the 38-yard line. On the next play, Orton backs up into the shotgun and fires toward Tony Scheffler — good for a five-yard gain. 2nd-and-5 brings a pitch to Correll Buckhalter and a first down after the 11-yard gain.
Q3 6:04: A long pass intended for Marshall falls incomplete, but a completion to Scheffler on the following play sets up another first down for the Broncos at the San Diego 34-yard line. Buckhalter runs for five more yards on first down, followed by a one-yard gain by Moreno. On 3rd-and-4, Orton backs up into the shotgun with three receivers out wide. He fires to Marshall, who drags his defender for a first down.
Q3 3:45: On 1st-and-10, Orton pump fakes then fires to Scheffler in the end zone for a touchdown. It’s quite a catch by Scheffler — the replay shows the tight end got both feet in bounds as he dove to make the catch. Prater’s extra point is good, and the long drive puts the Broncos back on top.
BRONCOS 24, CHARGERS 23
Q3 3:43 The touchdown drive spanned nine plays for 77 yards, taking 4:14 off the game clock. Now Prater is on the field to kick off, and it’s fielded by Sproles. Darcel McBath took down the returner with a big hit at the 26-yard line.
Q3 3:39: A 17-yard Tomlinson run gave the Chargers another first down, and he followed it up with a seven-yard run and a run for no gain. On 3rd-and-3, Rivers drops back and is sacked almost immediately by Dumervil. The sack also forces a fumble, which is recovered by Vonnie Holliday, giving the Broncos offense the ball at the San Diego 47-yard line.
Q3 1:05: A pitch to Moreno goes for no gain on first down, followed by a pass aimed at Jabar Gaffney that was broken up at the last moment. It’s now 3rd-and-10 for the Broncos at the San Diego 47-yard line. Orton buys time, but coverage forces him to scramble forward for a quick chunk of yards. There’s a flag on the play, however — holding on the defense. It’s five yards and an automatic first down.
Q3 0:10: A quick pass out to Brandon Marshall nets nine yards on the run after the catch, and a handoff to Moreno on second down goes for a loss of a yard as the quarter comes to a close. The Broncos will have a 3rd-and-2 at the 26-yard line on the other side of the break.
START OF FOURTH QUARTER: Orton drops back and finds a wide-open Marshall for the first down. Now 1st-and-10 at the 17-yard line, Orton hands off to Buckhalter, and he’s stopped after a gain of one yard.
Q4 13:50: With Orton in the shotgun, Buckhalter catches a pass out of the backfield for a five-yard gain on second down. That sets up a 3rd-and-4 at the 11-yard line. Orton is in teh shtogun with Buckhalter to his right. Three receivers are out wide. Orton takes the snap, drops back and fires for a diving Royal — but the pass falls incomplete. Prater is on the field for a 29-yard field goal attempt — and it’s good, extending the Broncos’ lead.
BRONCOS 27, CHARGERS 23
Q4 13:05: That was a 10-play scoring drive by the Broncos. That’s two consecutive long drives strung together by the offense. Now the Chargers offense is on the field, and Rivers tries to set up a screen pass to Tomlinson. The defense sniffs it out, most notably Haggan, who drills the running back for a loss of four.
Q4 12:17: An incomplete pass by Rivers intended for Vincent Jackson sets up 3rd-and-14 for the Chargers at their own 23-yard line. Rivers is in the shotgun and he’s sacked by Dumervil for the second time today. That brings in Mike Scifres for the punt, with Royal back deep to receive. He tries to find the sideline but is brought down after a short gain at the 29-yard line, where the offense will take over on the other side of a TV timeout.
Q4 11:36: Orton takes the snap from under center on first down, handing off to Buckhalter. The running back finds a big hole and picks up 15 yards for a first down.
Q4 11:26: After an injury timeout for the Chargers, Buckhalter finds room for a six-yard gain on first down. With the ball at midfield, the Broncos have a 2nd-and-4, and it’s a handoff to Buckhalter. The ball comes loose, and there’s a pile to recover the fumble — Ben Hamilton comes away with it after quickly diving on the ball. After the scramble for the ball, it’s 3rd-and-1 for the Broncos — actually a three-yard gain in the end.
Q4 9:51: On 3rd-and-1, Peyton Hillis is in at fullback blocking for Moreno. Moreno leaps in the air and dives forward toward the first-down marker — and the refs are calling for a measurement. It’s a first down, and the cheers from the crowd are louder than the boos. Not sure if that’s because Chargers fans were confused, or Broncos fans are taking over. Either one is possible.
Q4 9:29: Big tackle by the Chargers on first down — a pitch to Moreno that looked like could go for a big gain is just a gain of two. On second down, Moreno takes a handoff just as the play clock was nearing zero and picks up five yards. It’s 3rd-and-3, and Orton takes the snap from under center. He tries to find a diving Royal again, but the pass is a little low and hits the ground. That sets up 4th-and-3 for the Broncos at the 39-yard line — and Kern is in to punt.
Q4 8:00: Kern’s punt bounces at about the 3-yard line before heading into the end zone for a touchback. The Chargers take over on their own 20-yard line. On first down, D.J. Williams blitzes into the backfield late and gets to Rivers for a sack and a forced fumble — but Rivers recovers his own fumble on the way down to the ground. That makes it 2nd-and-21 at the 9-yard line — and Rivers completes it to Vincent Jackson for a 17-yard gain. Now it’s 3rd-and-4 for San Diego.
Q4 6:27: A pass interference call on Andre’ Goodman on a deep pass intended for Jackson gives the Chargers a first down at the Denver 40-yard line. Haggan and Dawkins take down Sproles after a two-yard gain on the following play. On second down, Rivers drops back and is hit by Andra Davis as he lets go of the ball — so the pass falls harmlessly to the ground, incomplete. That sets up 3rd-and-8, and Rivers is in the shotgun. He tries to get it to Malcom Floyd, but Champ Bailey was in tight coverage and the pass sails high.
Q4 5:45: At the Denver 38-yard line, the Chargers elect to go for it on 4th-and-8. Rivers is in the shotgun and fires toward Floyd — but it’s broken up by Bailey and D.J. Williams. Turnover on downs.
Q4 4:54: The cornerback tried to jump an Orton pass to Scheffler, and paid the price. Scheffler turned back in field after the catch and sprinted all the way up field to the 8-yard line. It’s a 52-yard gain, and the Broncos have a first-and-goal.
Q4 3:00: Two consecutive Moreno runs sets up a third-and-goal at the 5-yard line. Orton drops back into the shotgun with three receivers to the left. He fires the ball to Brandon Stokley, who snags the catch and rolls into the end zone for the touchdown. San Diego head coach Norv Turner throws in the red challenge flag because the defense believes they touched Stokley down at the 1-yard line.
Q4 2:55 The ruling is upheld, and Stokley’s touchdown stands. Prater’s extra point is up and through the uprights — and the Broncos now hold an 11-point lead.
BRONCOS 34, CHARGERS 23
Q4 2:48 Darrell Reid makes the stop on Sproles at the 23-yard line, where the Chargers offense takes over. Rivers passes to Antonio Gates in the middle of the field — a quick six-yard gain. It looks like the Chargers are electing for a hurry-up offense, and Rivers steps up in the pocket to find Chris Chambers for a 17-yard gain and a first down. They hurry up to the line againand Rivers finds Jackson for another first down at the Denver 36-yard line as the clock winds down to the two-minute warning.
Q4 1:59 Gates catches a pass for another first down at the 25-yard line, and the Chargers hurry back up to the line as the clock continues to tick. Rivers avoids pressure and moves out of the pocket, eyeing a receiver running toward the end zone — actually it was Tomlinson — but Wesley Woodyard’s coverage is right there, and the linebacker almost comes away with the interception in addition to the pass breakup.
Q4 1:15: The Broncos defense continues to swarm — Reid sacks Rivers and forces a fumble — but the Chargers recover it. It’s an 11-yard loss, and San Diego is forced to use its final timeout.
Q4 1:08: Rivers is hit as he throws on 3rd-and-21, and the pass falls incomplete. Now the team is faced with a 4th-and-21 at the 37-yard line. Kaeding is out to attempt a field goal — the 55-yard attempt is wide left, and the Broncos offense is back on the field. Broncos fans are all cheering and the Broncos sideline acknowledges the fans in the crowd. It’s a big celebration in Qualcomm Stadium as Orton takes two knees to close out the team’s sixth victory in as many games.
The Broncos now head into their bye week undefeated at 6-0.
FINAL SCORE: BRONCOS 34, CHARGERS 23
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com