Chargers vs. Broncos: Live Game Grades and Analysis for San Diego

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2013

A strong running game and efficient defense allowed the San Diego Chargers to stay alive in the AFC playoff race and earn a little pride with a victory over the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.


Final Score: San Diego 27, Denver 20

San Diego Chargers Game Grades
Position UnitFirst-Half GradeFinal Grade
Pass OffenseAA-
Run OffenseB+A+
Pass DefenseB-B
Run DefenseBA+
Special TeamsBB
vs. Broncos Week 15

Game Analysis for San Diego

Pass Offense: Quarterback Philip Rivers did everything he could to outplay his Denver counterpart. For the most part, he was successful.

Rivers did not throw for an excessive amount of yards in this game, but he was extremely efficient and did not make any major mistakes.

He finished the game 12-of-20 for 166 yards and two touchdowns.

Run Offense: The San Diego rushing attack made a major difference in this contest. Not only did running backs Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead help keep the ball out of Denver’s hands, they made a number of plays on their own.

Mathews racked up 128 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries, while Woodhead added 29 yards on nine rushing attempts.

Pass Defense: Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was pressured throughout the evening and was often off the mark because of it.

Perhaps the biggest play of the night came late in the fourth quarter, when Manning threw a potentially game-sealing interception.

Run Defense: The Broncos were held in check on the ground early and never really went back to the running game as the game wore on.

Starting back Knowshon Moreno was held to just 19 yards on eight carries on the night.

Special Teams: There were a few good plays by the San Diego special teams unit, especially early. However, an out-of-bounds kickoff by Nick Novak could have easily cost the Chargers.

Bonus points go to punter Mike Scifres, who managed to corral a dropped snap and still put the Broncos inside their own 5-yard line. A recovered onside kick ended any chance of a Denver comeback.

Coaching: Head coach Mike McCoy crafted an excellent game plan for this divisional grudge match.

With a strong running game and a balanced overall offense, the Chargers were able to keep Manning away from the football for long stretches.

Defensive coordinator John Pagano also deserves credit for winning his chess match with Manning for the majority of the game.

First-Half Analysis for San Diego

Pass Offense

Quarterback Philip Rivers has done his part to counter the punches thrown by Peyton Manning and Co.

He has been helped tremendously by rookie wideout Keenan Allen, who turned a short pass into a 19-yard second-quarter touchdown with sheer effort.

Rivers finished the half 7-of-12 for 90 yards and two touchdowns, both to Allen.


Run Offense

Ryan Mathews continues to run hard and play every bit like the former first-round pick that he is.

Thanks in part to solid run defense by the Chargers, the San Diego running game had the advantage in the first half.

Mathews rushed 13 times for 58 yards in the first half, while Rivers added 11 yards on a scramble.


Pass Defense

San Diego allowed Manning to engineer a seven-play, 57-yard drive on the game’s opening possession, which set the tone for an offensive assault.

However, the Chargers did a good job of pressuring Manning after the initial drive, sacking him once and limiting his time in the pocket.

Manning finished the half 9-of-15 for 118 yards and one touchdown.


Run Defense

The Chargers have done a respectable job of slowing the Broncos rushing attack. Knowshon Moreno had just 21 yards on seven carries in the half, for a paltry three yards-per-carry average.


Special Teams

Long scoring drives led to limited opportunities in the first half, although the Chargers did make a nice 10-yard-line stop on a second-quarter kickoff return.

Kicker Nick Novak nailed his only field-goal attempt of the half, while Mike Scifres booted a beautiful 53-yard punt that pinned the Broncos inside their 10.



Head coach Mike McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt have crafted a game plan that has poked holes in Denver’s 25th-ranked defense (374.2 yards per game allowed).

Defensive coordinator John Pagano dialed up enough pressure to keep Manning from having his way with the Chargers secondary, which is a big reason why San Diego has the halftime lead.


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