"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."
This was a tale of two halves.
In a Monday night game with the division lead on the line the Denver Broncos came out in the first half and laid an egg. They failed to score a point in the first half and trailed at halftime 24-0.
The Broncos offense got it going on the first drive of the third quarter as they drove 85 yards and put a touchdown on the board.
Then it was the defense's turn. Defensive back Tony Carter picked up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown. Suddenly we had a ball game.
The Bronco offense scored three more touchdowns.
The Denver defense intercepted Charger quarterback Philip Rivers four times. They also recovered two San Diego fumbles.
The Broncos came back from a 24 point deficit to beat the Chargers in one of the greatest comebacks in Denver Bronco history.
The win puts both teams at 3-3 with Denver holding the edge going into the bye week.
Let's take a look at the Broncos' final postgame grades and evaluations.
Broncos 35 Chargers 24
Overall Game Grade: A
Manning was pretty solid all night. He just didn't get much help until the second half. But once the help came, Peyton Manning was off the charts. He finished the game 24/30 for 309 with two touchdowns and an interception. He was deadly in the second half dropping passes in very small windows and completely dismantled the Charger defense in the second half.
4th Quarter: A+
Peyton Manning is so hot right now. Early the ESPN crew was pointing out how San Diego safety Eric Weddle was confusing the veteran quarterback. That talk has stopped. Manning is 24/29 for 309 yards right now and he is picking in Weddle.
3rd Quarter: A
On 3rd and 16 Manning hits Jacob Tamme for a gain of 19. Manning follows that up with a seven yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker.
I don't think Peyton Manning is very happy. He came out firing to start the second half. He goes 6/6 on the opening drive and hits Demaryius Thomas on a 29 yard deep post for a touchdown.
2nd Quarter: C-
He isn't getting very much help but once again Manning throws an early interception. This one is returned for an 80 yard touchdown.
Manning has been sharp thus far but a holding penalty stalls the opening drive of the second quarter.
1st Quarter: B+
Manning is 3/4 for 17 yards but the offense has a single first down.
Peyton completed his only pass of the opening drive, an eight yard crossing pass to Demaryius Thomas.
Overall Game Grade: B+
It took a little while to get this unit going but once they did they were very impressive. Sure the defense scored 14 points but that first drive of the second half ignited this team and the comeback was on. The offense rolled up 366 yards and changed the direction of the game.
4th Quarter: A
Willis McGahee is running harder as the game wears on. The San Diego defense is having a hard time bringing him down.
The Bronco offense is on a tear. They have scored on their last three possessions.
3rd Quarter: A-
The offense is getting hot. So far they have 140 yards in the second half.
I have a feeling that Peyton Manning had some harsh words for his offensive teammates at halftime. The Bronco offense came out firing in the third quarter. Denver took the ball 85 yards in eight plays and finally put some points on the board.
2nd Quarter: C-
Wide receiver Matt Willis fails to adjust his pass route and when Manning throws a quick slant there is no one there but Charger defensive back Quentin Jammer. Jammer returns the pick for an 80 yard touchdown.
Eric Decker just tripped over the 30 yard line. Hope that doesn't come back to haunt him.
The offense managed two first downs on the opening drive in the second quarter but a holding penalty forced another punt. At least they managed to flip the field position.
1st Quarter: D
Another possession and another punt. At least they got one first down this time.
The offense gets off to another slow start on it's opening drive failing to convert a single first down. With a third and short, the offensive line fails to get any sort of a push and running back Willis McGahee lost two yards.
Overall Game Grade: A-
The defense was put in some very tough situations tonight. Twice in the first half the special teams unit turned the ball over deep in Denver territory. The defense held San Diego to 10 points. In the second quarter they began to look like they were tired. They began giving up large gains. But then Elvis Dumervil made a play that changed the game completely when he stripped Charger quarterback Philip Rivers and defensive back Tony Carter took the ball back for a touchdown. The defense intercepted Rivers four times and pitched a shutout in the second half.
4th Quarter: A+
Big sack late by Von Miller. Von Miller has become the single greatest celebration artist in the NFL.
Chris Harris picks off Philip Rivers and takes it back 46 yards for the touchdown.
Another interception. This one by Chris Harris who simply attacked the ball.
Tony Carter picks off Philip Rivers and returns the ball to the 50 yard line. Two HUGE plays by Carter tonight.
3rd Quarter: B
Huge play by the Denver defense. Elvis Dumervil causes San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers to fumble. Tony Carter scoops it up on the run and takes it 65 yards for the touchdown.
The defense is getting gouged and once again allowing third and long conversions. Failure to recover a fumble by Randy McMichael could have been a game changer,
2nd Quarter: C-
The Denver defense is returning to their usual form. They have now allowed 24 points and 179 yards of offense in the first half.
Starting to become concerned with the ease that the Chargers are moving the ball, Jim Leonhard makes a great interception to stop the drive.
1st Quarter: B
The Bronco defense has been put in some tough spots tonight but this one started at the San Diego 23 yard line and drove inside the Denver 30 yard line. Fortunately they get some help from the Chargers committing penalties.
Hard to fault the Broncos defense when the special teams keeps turning it over deep in their own territory.
Following a turnover by the special teams, the defense makes it's biggest stop of the night holding the Chargers to just a field goal.
Two solid initial possessions by the Denver defense tonight. Following an opening play penalty, the defense dug in and held the Chargers offenses to just six plays and two punts.
Overall Game Grade: D
Not a great night for the special teams unit. And I'm not changing this grade. The kickoff coverage gave up two significant returns and the return teams each turned it over. Good thing this performance didn't cost the Broncos tonight.
4th Quarter: C-
The poor special teams play rears its ugly head once again. The kickoff coverage gives up a return to the Charger 32 yard line.
3rd Quarter: C+
Good coverage by the kickoff coverage team. They bring down Curtis Brinkley at the Charger 15 yard line.
Trindon Holliday causes Bronco fans to hold their breath in unison as he fields a punt on a bounce. But he hold on this time and returns the punt 12 yards to the Denver 45 yard line.
2nd Quarter: Incomplete
Not much to report in the second quarter. Solid punt coverage.
1st Quarter: F
Oman Boldin fumbles the kickoff on a short kick that he never quite handled cleanly. The Bronco special teams is off to a horrible start.
Newly acquired return specialist Trindon Holliday muffs a punt at his own 17 yard line. Not a good way to start with your new team.
The kickoff team gives up a 38 yard return to Richard Goodman to open the game.
Overall Game Grade: C+
It all comes down to the final score but can this coaching staff please figure out a way to start faster? Is offensive coordinator Mike McCoy scripting the early plays? If so, please stop. The offense has struggled early in nearly every game so far this season. Great way to finish the game. Now you have a bye week to figure out how to get better earlier.
4th Quarter: B-
Peyton Manning is on fire right now, so excuse me if I wonder why the offense ran a draw on 3rd and 11. A first down there might have broken the Chargers.
I wish this team had started the game like this. At least they have gotten it going in the second half. This team is firing on all cylinders right now.
3rd Quarter: B+
The Broncos are coming out hard in the third quarter. Not sure why it takes them so long to play with urgency.
2nd Quarter: D-
This team doesn't look very prepared. Once again they are off to a horrible start. The offense has been stagnant and three turnovers in just two quarters doesn't bode well on the road.
1st Quarter: D
Another three and out to start the game on offense.
Special Team Coordinator Jeff Rodgers should probably give back his paycheck.