The Los Angeles Chargers watched a 34-yard field goal by Denver Broncos’ kicker Brandon McManus sail through the uprights on Sunday and in the process, they watched their 6-game winning streak sail away.
The Chargers hadn’t lost since September 23 against the Los Angeles Rams. That changed on Sunday when they dropped a game to the Broncos at home, one in which they accumulated 479 yards of offense and converted nine of 15 tries on third down. In the end, the 22 points they put on the scoreboard weren’t enough.
Penalties and turnovers were the culprit as the Chargers were penalized 14 times for 120 yards on the day. Philip Rivers threw two interceptions, the second of which totally changed the complexion of the game.
Leading the game 19-7 with just under four minutes to play in the third quarter and facing a 3rd-and-9 at the Denver 35-yard line, Rivers dropped back and tried to throw a quick screen pass but it went right into the hands of Von Miller, who made an incredible play to get the ball. He then rumbled 42 yards the other way down to the Chargers’ 18-yard line and three plays later, the Broncos punched in a touchdown to make it 19-14.
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From that point on, it felt like the Chargers were trying to hold on against a desperate Broncos team. Still, it appeared the Chargers had the game won after a crucial third-down conversion to Antonio Gates that went for 25 yards with just over three minutes to play.
But after a 7-yard run by Melvin Gordon on first down, a broken play on the next down cost the Chargers four yards and took it down to the two-minute warning. On the next play, a 3rd-and-7 in which a first down would have sealed the win, Rivers threw the ball away on a play in which no one seemed to know what was going on.
The Broncos got the ball with one last chance. Case Keenum completed two huge passes on the possession, one to Emmanuel Sanders for 38 yards and the other to Courtland Sutton, gaining 30 more. That set the Broncos up for the game-winning field goal and even after being “iced” by a Chargers time out, McManus booted it through as time expired.
A tough day at the office for the Bolts who drop to 7-3 on the season and must get ready to face the Arizona Cardinals next week.