It seems like a long time since the Denver Broncos entered San Diego with a chance to end the Chargers playoffs hopes, but that was the case today, and that was exactly what the Broncos did.
In what can only be considered a microcosm for both teams' seasons, the San Diego Chargers found a way to defy their talent and lose, while the Broncos did just the opposite and won.
The time is slowly coming to pass where the rest of the league needs to at least acknowledge that the Broncos are not going to beat themselves anymore. Slowly, and surely, this team is relying on a now "tried and true" recipe for victory.
Here are a few things that we learned about the Denver Broncos, who are now firmly entrenched in a playoff hunt.
Even though Philip Rivers is not having his best NFL season, he still possesses the skills necessary to keep him upright more often than not. Rivers' troubles have been with throw selection, accuracy and decision making, but his pocket presence is still better than the last three QB's that Denver has faced.
Dumervil and Miller were not totally un-effective early in the game, but their style is much more effective against quarterbacks who are slower with their decisions and don't get the ball out as fast.
When Denver faces a quarterback like Rivers, who is experienced and comfortable with their offense, they need to find more exotic blitz packages, which will create immediate pressure. The speed maneuvers and trying to beat the tackles to a spot give a player like Rivers too much time.
It wasn't until late in the game when Rivers and the Chargers offense seemed to clam up that the pass rush made an impact and gave the offense the ball back repeatedly when they needed it the most.
When Denver can get pressure anytime and anywhere, they will have arrived a truly elite pass rushing defense.
Having Tim Tebow as your quarterback is no easy task for an offensive lineman. This is probably not coming as a surprise to most, but it seemed more apparent in this game than it has in recent memory.
It's almost a catch-22, as the offensive line is seen in one second doing an extremely impressive job of giving Tebow almost 10 seconds to throw, but then when he breaks the pocket, they must be constantly vigilant not to be the one who brings back a first down scramble for holding.
The offensive line will certainly not be seen complaining, even when they were mistakenly being given credit for the inordinate amount of sacks that Tebow was causing himself to take, but they know that their task is not an easy one.
Eric Decker is making it his personal mission to justify the Brandon Lloyd trade. Decker seems to either always be open, or always be in a position to steal the ball or protect against interception.
His blossoming connection with Tim Tebow is exciting, but certainly more a testament to his talent than anything else, and points to the fact that he will be an effective receiver regardless of who is throwing the ball to him.
The connection that Decker and Tebow may both share is the dogged competitiveness to never give up on a play and believe that he is going to come down with every ball.
This defensive performance was not as punishing or flashy as it was last week against New York, but somehow, it was almost equally effective.
The Denver Broncos defense was gashed at times, but still found ways to keep the Chargers out of the end zone when they needed to. When the chips looked like they were down, the defense, led by Von Miller, decided to declare war on Philip Rivers and punished the San Diego quarterback.
Even in overtime when Von Miller seemingly let his rookie inexperience show by taking a penalty for offsides and giving the Chargers precious field goal yardage, he took it right back by making a stop in the backfield that could have been the difference in the Chargers' missed field goal.
Fans will continue to point to the Tebow magic that is leading Denver to victory every week, but this time, there is not a highlight of Tebow that will serve as a symbol for the game, but instead, a gutsy string of stops by the defense in the fourth quarter and overtime that led the team to victory.