CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Brandon McManus kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired on Sunday to give the Denver Broncos a 23-22 win and snap the Los Angeles Chargers’ six-game winning streak.
Denver got the ball at its own 8 with 1:51 remaining, and Case Keenum orchestrated a seven-play, 76-yard drive. Keenum, who was 19 of 32 for 205 yards, completed five passes for 86 yards during the drive, including a 30-yarder to Courtland Sutton to the Denver 16. Keenum then spiked the ball and McManus’ kick split the uprights.
Phillip Lindsay had 11 carries for 79 yards and Sutton had three receptions for 78 yards. Denver (4-6) had lost six of seven coming into the game.
“When the game is tight, Case has made the most plays. He is a gamer,” Denver coach Vance Joseph said. “We’ve been in four or five of these games and didn’t make enough plays to win. Today we didn’t hope to win, we made plays to win.”
Philip Rivers threw for 401 yards and two touchdowns. The 15-year veteran, who completed 28 of 43 passes, also became the sixth quarterback in league history to throw at least two touchdown passes in each of his team’s first 10 games to start a season.
It was not one of the cleanest games for Rivers or the Chargers, though. Rivers threw two interceptions and Los Angeles committed 14 penalties, including 10 in the first half. Mike Badgley, who made three field goals, also missed an extra point that ended up looming large.
“The crucial mistakes that we’ve been able to stay away from, we didn’t today,” Rivers said.
Melvin Gordon had 158 yards from scrimmage (89 rushing, 69 receiving) and Keenan Allen had nine receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown for the Chargers (7-3).
A pair of first-quarter field goals by Badgley put the Chargers ahead early. Less than three minutes into the second quarter, Lindsay got a seam on blocks by right guard Billy Turner and center Connor McGovern and went 41 yards to give the Broncos a 7-6 lead.
Lindsay’s touchdown was set up the play before when the Broncos successfully executed a fake punt with punter Colby Waldman throwing a 12-yard pass to fullback Andy Janovich for a first down. It was the second straight week the Chargers allowed a fake punt.
Rivers eluded the blitz and threw a 4-yard pass to a wide-open Allen to put Los Angeles on top 13-6 at halftime. The Chargers then scored on their opening drive of the second half when Rivers threw a 6-yard TD to Antonio Gates.
The Chargers appeared to be driving for another score when Denver seized momentum. Von Miller got his first interception in a regular-season game since 2012 when he picked off Rivers on a screen pass and returned it 40 yards to the Chargers’ 18. Three plays later, Royce Freeman ran it in from three yards out.
“The interception turned the game around, to me. That spun the whole game,” Rivers said. “It was about to be a blowout, and he made that play, and then it’s a touchdown and then all of a sudden he made it a game.”
The Broncos then took a 20-19 lead on their next drive when Lindsay had a 2-yard TD on a direct snap.
Badgley’s field goal would give the lead back to the Chargers until the final drive.
Miller’s sack of Rivers in the second quarter gave him 10 for the season, which allowed him to join Reggie White and DeMarcus Ware as the only players with 10 or more sacks in seven of their first eight seasons.
Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa made his season debut after missing the first nine games with a bone bruise to his left foot. The third-year lineman did not start but was in on pass-rushing situations.
Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget was carted to the locker room with a knee injury during the second quarter. Denver wide receiver DeSean Hamilton suffered a knee injury in the second quarter, and cornerback Bradley Roby was evaluated for a concussion in the fourth quarter.
Broncos: Host the Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday.
Chargers: Host the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday.
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