It was not supposed to end this way. The Broncos, needed just one win over the last three weeks to win the West, but after Sunday’s 52-21 trouncing in San Diego, all the team can do is start to look back at the 2008 season and wonder “what if?”
The team gave up a whopping 289 yards rushing, and the 52 points was just a nail in the teams letdown. They were unable to put away the Panthers in Carolina, stop the Bills from a comeback last week at home, and never really stood a chance vs a Chargers team that was out for revenge after they got a bogus call against them in week two in Denver that saved a Broncos win. As far as the Chargers were concerned, justice was served.
That justice took place Sunday night as with the win the Chargers take the AFC West with a record of 8-8. The Broncos lost their last three games to finish 8-8 as well, but lost the division due to the tie-breaker.
The Chargers crushed the Broncos to the tune of 491 yards of offense, 26 first downs, and 289 yards rushing – 115 by Darren Sproles and 96 for LaDainian Tomlinson, who also scored three touchdowns. Denver put up 406 yards of offense themselves, but every time they tried to make it a game their defense let them down.
Jay Cutler was 33-for-49 for 316 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The Chargers were up 10-6 after the first quarter, then started to pile on the points, scoring two TD’s to go up 24-6 at the half. Denver got a TD from Tatum Bell, who went in from 37 yards out to make it 24-13 at the 12:47 mark of the third quarter.
The Chargers then made it 31-13 on a Philip Rivers to Sproles TD from 13 yards out. Then Tomlinson put the game out of reach for good with a 4-yard run that made it 38-13 after a pick by Luis Castillo that was poorly thrown by Cutler. The Chargers piled on two more rushing TD’s in the fourth for the 31-point win.
Maybe it was fate, considering the refs robbed the Chargers out of a win in Denver in week two after a blown call that was admitted by the league. This time they were not going to let the refs or anyone else for that matter get in their way. They will now have to get set to play host to the hottest team in the league in an AFC Wild Card game on Saturday in the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts beat San Diego on November 23rd in San Diego 23-20. The two teams have a playoff history, as San Diego topped the Colts last season in Indy before falling to the Patriots in the AFC Title game the following week in New England. For the Broncos, it’s an offseason of pain and wondering what could have been if only they would have been able to close out one of their last three opponents.
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