Despite their best efforts, the San Diego Chargers managed to hang on and defeat the Denver Broncos 21-13 on Thursday night.
It wasn’t pretty, though. The Chargers visited the goal posts more than the end zone, but their mediocre attack was certainly superior in comparison to the pitiful effort put forth by Trevor Siemian and the Broncos offense.
“We found a way to win… You saw how hard we fought.”
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) October 14, 2016
Melvin Gordon was the man for San Diego, carrying the ball 27 times for 94 yards — almost as much as the entire Denver offense mustered through three quarters.
San Diego dominated Denver through the majority of the affair, but could only manage 19 points heading into the fourth quarter because they squandered four red-zone possessions, settling for field goals each time.
Still, things seemed to be going San Diego’s way most of the night. Denver cornerback Aqib Talib shot his team in the foot (better than the leg, right?) with a pass interference penalty on a crucial third-down play late in the third quarter when it looked like the Broncos were about to get off the field. Instead, the flag on Talib kept the drive alive, which ended with Josh Lambo’s fourth field goal of the night, putting San Diego up 19-3.
The fourth quarter once again unkind to the Chargers.
It didn’t seem that way at first, though. A holding call against the Broncos in the end zone early in the fourth quarter resulted in a safety, extending San Diego’s lead to 21-3.
On the subsequent free kick, however, things began to take a turn as up-man Kenny Wiggins muffed the catch. Denver recovered the fumble and capped off its drive with a Trevor Siemian touchdown pass to Bennie Fowler. The Chargers would lose 11 yards on their next possession and give Denver the ball back with six minutes to play and a full complement of timeouts.
You could all but hear the awful lament of Chargers fans. How are we going to blow it this time?
It looked like San Diego was well on its way to choking again, as Siemian began surgically moving the Denver offense down the field, looking like a totally different quarterback than the one who showed up through the first three quarters. A costly fumble by Demaryius Thomas, however, looked to be the clincher for the bolts.
Except it wasn’t.
Getting the ball back with just over two minutes to play and no timeouts, the Broncos made their way down the field and put a field goal through the uprights to cut the game to one score. Then Denver recovered its onside kick, sending Mike McCoy into a downward spiral of depression on the sideline.
Qualcomm Stadium held its collective breath as Siemian sent a final hail mary heave to the end zone. The ball was batted down outside the goal line, however, and the now 2-4 Chargers roared with the elation of still-last-place team that finally managed not to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
… and for perhaps the first time this season, there was joy in San Diego.