DENVER, CO (12/12/2013) The San Diego Chargers (7-7) kept their AFC Wildcard hopes alive with a huge road win over the Denver Broncos (11-3) on Thursday Night Football.
The win gave the Broncos their only loss at home this season, and snapped their 10-game win streak against AFC West opponents.
The Chargers controlled the clock 38:49 to 21:11 thanks to a monster rushing performance led by Ryan Mathews, who ran for 127 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries.
The Broncos put up 10 points on their first two possessions, but the Chargers' defense held the Peyton Manning led offense in check for most of the game. They allowed just 20 points, 18 rushing yards, and 295 yards total. All season lows for the NFL's top ranked offense.
Mathews ended the opening drive of the second half with a 23-yard run for a touchdown to give the Chargers a 24-10 lead early in the third quarter.
Impact Play of the Game
With the Chargers holding on to a 24-17 lead with 5:50 left to play, it looked as if Peyton Manning would drive the Broncos down the field and tie the game. The Chargers' pass rush put an end to those hopes by forcing Manning to make a bad pass that would fall into the hands of linebacker Thomas Keiser at the Denver 33. That led to a 42-yard field goal by Nick Novak to make it a two possession game with 2:36 left to play.
The Broncos settled for a field goal on the next possession to cut their deficit to seven with 0:29 remaining, but a failed onside kick sealed the much needed win for the Chargers.
AFC Wildcard Race
Current 6th Seed
Baltimore Ravens (7-6)
@ DET (7-6), vs. NE (10-3), @ CIN (9-4)
In The Hunt
Miami Dolphins (7-6)
vs. NE (10-3), @ BUF (4-9), vs. NYJ (6-7)
vs. OAK (4-9), vs. KC (10-3)
New York Jets (6-7)
@ CAR (9-4), vs. CLE (4-9), @ MIA (7-6)
Tennessee Titans (5-8)
vs. ARI (8-5), @ JAX (4-9), vs. HOU (2-11)