The San Diego Chargers (7-7) defeated their AFC West rivals the Denver Broncos (11-3) 27 - 20 in a stunning upset that saw the Denver Broncos and their high-flying passing attack, grounded for most of the evening. The Broncos, who entered the game as heavy favorites, now find themselves neck and neck with the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning entered yesterday's Thursday Night Football game, which aired on NFL Network, within striking distance of two prestigious passing records. It appeared, however, during last night's game, that the San Diego Chargers had learned from their previous week 10 outing in which the Broncos outlasted them 28-20 at Qualcomm Stadium; this time around the Chargers managed to control the clock and keep the future Hall of Famer off the field leaving the Broncos' top-rated passing attack stifled for most of the contest.
Manning, who joined the Broncos last year after recovering from four neck surgeries, has shown that at age 37 he is still more than capable of being an elite signal caller at the NFL level. Last night's 27 - 20 defeat at the hands of a poised San Diego side led by Philip Rivers, may have shown that the only way to slow down this years ageless quarterback who leads the MVP race, is to keep them off of the field. The Chargers out-possessed the Broncos by a staggering 17 minutes and 39 seconds in the competition (ESPN.com). The Chargers ability to control the clock helped keep the Denver Broncos on the sideline while tiring out their porous defense that ranks 22nd in the league (NFL.com).
Manning inches closer to history
Manning entered Thursday night's contest just 954 yards shy of single season mark set by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (5476 passing yards) just two years prior (Bronco Mike, SB Nation). Even though Manning and the Broncos' offense could not find their rhythm for most of the evening, the quarterback still managed to make a case for catching Brees, by salvaging 289 passing yards on the evening in limited work leaving him just 665 yards shy with two games remaining.
Thursday night's contest on NFL network also witnessed the Broncos' signal caller inch closer to another NFL record, this one set by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Manning entered Thursday Night Football just 5 touchdowns shy of Tom Brady's NFL record 50 passing touchdowns, and after tossing two more touchdowns last night, Peyton is now just three touchdowns shy of matching Tom Brady's mark. Manning looked poised to get even closer and possibly overtake Brady by throwing a touchdown to wide receiver Andre Caldwell on the games opening drive, however, the offense would sputter for most of the evening leaving Manning three touchdowns shy with two more games to surpass the mark set by Brady.
Thursday's loss to Chargers meant more to the Broncos than Manning's place in the record books, as the loss now opens the door for the Patriots and Chiefs to potentially overtake them for the #1 seed in the AFC and steal home field advantage with just two games remaining. Up next for the Broncos are the hapless Houston Texans who have already been eliminated from playoff contention.