Culver City Observer -

By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Chargers Lose to Broncos

 

November 22, 2018

The Chargers somehow managed to lose to the Broncos. In the NFL, mental errors, turnovers and too many penalties can turn a good team into a mediocre team. NFL teams practice all season to eliminate the mistakes that can cost a team a victory. The Los Angeles Chargers are no exception to that NFL norm. Which made their play on Sunday all the more difficult.

Playing at home in the Stub Hub Center in Carson, the Chargers committed multiple errors in allowing the Denver Broncos to come from behind to knock them off, 23-22. The game was won by the Broncos on a Brandon McManus 34-yard field goal with no time on the clock. What led to the Bronco victory was very frustrating for the Chargers and their fans.

The Chargers outplayed the Broncos. They dominated time of possession 37:49 to 22:11 and they outgained the Broncos in yardage, 479-325. Charger quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 401 yards and two touchdowns. But it was the mistakes that cost the Chargers.

With the Chargers up 19-7 late in the third quarter and facing a 3rd-and-9 from the Denver 35, Rivers threw a short pass in the direction of Travis Benjamin, but it was picked off by Von Miller. Miller returned the interception to the Charger 18- yard line. A game changing interception.

As Rivers stated after the game, “The interception turned the game around to me. That spun the whole game. It was about to be a blowout and he made that play, then the touchdown. Then, all of a sudden, they made it a game.” The interception led to a three-yard touchdown run from Bronco running back Royce Freeman to cut the Charger lead to 19-14.

The Broncos followed that score with another touchdown on their next possession, capping a 73-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run from Phillip Lindsay. The two-point conversion failed, but the Broncos had the lead at 20-19. The Chargers, on the ensuing possession, drove sixty yards to the Denver 12-yard line. The drive stalled, but Charger kicker Mike Bagley converted a thirty-yard field goal to give the Chargers a 22-20 lead with 6:47 remaining in the game.

After a Bronco punt, the Chargers had the ball on their 20-yard line needing a couple of first downs to finish the game and send the Broncos home losers. The Chargers got one on a third down, 25-yard completion to tight end Antonio Gates.

The Chargers had a first down at their 49-yard line. After a seven-yard run by Melvin Gordon, the Chargers only needed three yards to win the game. What followed was closer to the Keystone Cops than football.

On second down, Rivers turned clockwise to hand-off the ball to Gordon, only Gordon had gone in the opposite direction. That forced Rivers to take a four-yard loss. On third down, with exactly two minutes left in the game, Rivers threw the ball into the ground for an incompletion, stopping the clock.

Had Rivers taken a sack, the Chargers could have run forty seconds off the clock. The mistake left the Broncos with enough time and the Chargers defense gave up two big pass plays of 38 and 30 yards, setting up the winning field goal by McManus.

The Chargers committed a season high of 14 penalties for 120 yards and had two turnovers. The penalties stalled two long drives and forced the Chargers to settle for two first half field goals. The Charger defense produced zero turnovers and zero sacks.

Charger Head Coach Anthony Lynn was not pleased with the effort: “Today, we lost that one (ourselves). Not to take anything away from the Broncos, that team was ready to play…(But) 14 penalties for 120 yards? You have to be kidding me.”

For the Broncos, a team that had lost six of their last seven games, the win moved them to 4-6 on the season. For the Chargers, the lost dropped their record to 7-3 and ended their six-game winning streak. The loss did not impact the Chargers chances of making the playoffs. They still have a two-game lead for the top wild-card spot in the AFC playoffs with six games to play. But the loss probably cost the Chargers a shot at winning the division.

After the game, Rivers was still optimistic, stating that, “We’ve had a good run. Shoot, we’re still sitting at 7-3. There’s no satisfaction, no settling, but we’ve got a lot to look ahead to and it’s right in front of us with Arizona (Cardinals) coming into town.”

It is good to hear that Rivers is still optimistic. He should be. The Chargers have a good team. But the loss will make any post-season playoff run more difficult. All things considered, it was an inexcusable loss.

 

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