Chargers vs. Broncos: Denver's Biggest Winners and Losers in Week 11
The win gives Denver a three-game lead over San Diego, and gave quarterback Peyton Manning 148 career wins, to tie former Bronco John Elway.
Manning had a solid if unspectacular game going 25/42 for 270 yards throwing three touchdowns and one interception.
The Broncos may not have played their best game but it was good enough to beat the struggling Chargers who have now lost five of their last six games.
So, which Broncos stepped up and helped Denver clinch this win?
And which ones didn't have their premium game?
Here are the Broncos' biggest winners and losers from Sunday's victory.
Loser: The Bad Start
I don't even know who to blame this on anymore.
Denver continued its trend of getting off to bad starts again on Sunday.
But who is to blame?
Is this a coaching issue?
At some point I feel like the players have to accept some ownership too.
Do the captains need to step up their game?
I am unsure who needs to accept responsibility for the poor starts, but there is no question that something needs to change.
The Broncos have been outscored 32-51 in the first quarter this season.
San Diego scored first today to take a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
This has to be corrected at some point.
It is a dangerous trend.
Winner: Wesley Woodyard
Wesley Woodyard had another strong game on Sunday.
The Broncos' leading tackler had eight tackles, a fumble recovery, and an interception that he returned for 25 yards. On the season Woodyard has 80 tackles and three sacks.
Woodyard has gone from a part-time contributor to a full-time force on the Denver defense.
He is a major part of the improvement of this defensive unit.
Loser: Lance Ball
Lance Ball is a normally dependable backup running back. He runs very hard and does a great job of protecting the ball.
When starting running back Willis McGahee went down with a knee injury Ball entered the game.
He ran the ball reasonably well carrying the ball six times for 35 yards.
He also caught three passes for 21 yards.
However, with the Broncos leading 10-7 in the second quarter, and the offense driving into Charger territory, Ball caught a six yard pass and fumbled ending the drive.
He bounced back with some strong runs in the second half, but that turnover didn't help.
Winner: Nate Irving
The Broncos maintained their 10-7 lead late in the second quarter when Nate Irving broke through the San Diego special teams unit and blocked a punt.
Denver recovered the loose ball and the offense took over possession on the Charger 31 yard line.
On the following play Peyton Manning hit Brandon Stokley in a fade route in the end zone for a touchdown.
The blocked punt sparked an offense that had struggled most of the day despite scoring 30 points.
Loser: Trindon Holliday
Holliday is such a dangerous return man. His speed and cutting ability make him a threat to break every kick that he touches.
Over the past four games, he has returned both a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown, and has looked on the verge of breaking a few more.
However, on Sunday, Holliday reminded us why the Houston Texans released him from their roster.
Holliday looked shaky with the ball. He fumbled one punt and the ball looked to be close to slipping out on two more returns.
Holliday can be a very dangerous weapon for this Bronco team.
He must protect the football.
Winner: Von Miller
Von Freaking Miller.
Nothing else needs to be said.
Miller once again was dominating the game on the defensive side of the ball.
He logged seven tackles and three sacks in the win on Sunday giving him 13 sacks on the year. That puts him on pace for a whopping 23 sacks on the season.
Those are video game numbers.
In fact, Miller has seven sacks over the last three weeks and is a player that opposing offenses must locate on every single play.
He now joins Dwight Freeney, Jevon Kearse, and Reggie White as the only players in NFL history who have had 11 or more sacks in their first two seasons.
That is amazing.
And he's not done yet.