Final

Chargers 32

(7-3, 4-1 away)

Broncos 3

(6-4, 3-2 home)

Coverage: CBS

4:15 PM ET, November 22, 2009

Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO 

1 2 3 4 T
SD 7 6 7 1232
DEN 0 0 3 03

Top Performers

Passing: K. Orton (DEN) - 171 YDS, 1 INT

Rushing: K. Moreno (DEN) - 10 CAR, 80 YDS

Receiving: V. Jackson (SD) - 4 REC, 56 YDS

Chargers shut down both Broncos' QBs to grab control in AFC West

Associated Press

DENVER -- It didn't matter which quarterback the Denver Broncos threw out there Sunday. The surging San Diego Chargers bottled up both the rusty Chris Simms and the hobbled Kyle Orton.

Philip Rivers and a dominant defense led the Chargers into sole possession of first place in the AFC West with a 32-3 drubbing of the Denver Broncos, who couldn't move the ball effectively behind either QB Sunday.

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"We were ready for Simms and Orton," Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman said.

The Chargers (7-3) have won five straight and the Broncos (6-4) have dropped four in a row, turning the division race upside-down. Just five weeks ago, the Chargers trailed the Broncos by 3½ games.

The balance of power in the AFC West couldn't have shifted in a more dramatic fashion.

Rivers was a crisp 17 for 22 and he led San Diego to scores on seven of 10 drives. Nate Kaeding kicked four field goals and the Chargers also recovered an onside kick, recorded three sacks and forced three turnovers.

The Broncos? They were flagged nine times to San Diego's one. And Marcus Thomas blocked an extra point in the final minute.

Fast Facts

• The Chargers won their fifth straight game after a 2-3 start to the 2009 season. Conversely, the Broncos have lost four straight games after starting the season 6-0.

• LaDainian Tomlinson rushed 20 times for 73 yards and a touchdown, his 20th score against the Broncos (more than any other player).

• Philip Rivers threw for a season-low 145 yards but completed 17 of 22 passes for a TD and no INTs.

• Denver has allowed 29.3 points per game during their four-game losing streak after allowing 11.0 points in their first six games.

• Rapid Reaction

-- ESPN Stats & Information

This was nothing like the Broncos' 34-23 win in San Diego last month.

"These last four weeks the guys up front have been unbelievable and [Denver] didn't blitz near as much this game," Rivers said. "It kind of surprised us they didn't bring some of the stuff they did in that early game. And our guys handled good pass rushers. I was touched one time that I remember."

Simms' first start since nearly being killed in a game three years ago didn't last long. After getting sacked twice and losing a fumble as the Broncos fell behind early, he was replaced by Orton, who didn't take a single snap in practice last week because of a sprained ankle.

Charge!

When San Diego sent more than five rushers after the QB, they were rewarded with big results. The Chargers got to the combo of Chris Simms and Kyle Orton for three sacks, with the lone interception coming when San Diego blitzed a defensive back after Orton.

DEN Passing By No. of Rushers
4 or fewer 5 or more
Comp-Att 9-19 8-14
Pass yds 61 120
Sacks 0 3
Int 0 1

-- ESPN Stats and Information

Simms was just 2 for 4 for 10 yards. He handed the ball off the first half dozen times he took the snap but when he dropped back for his first pass at the Chargers 17, he was sacked by linebacker Shaun Phillips, who raked the ball out of his left hand.

Safety Steve Gregory recovered and the Chargers drove downfield for a touchdown.

"That set the tone for the game," Merriman said. "We got pressure on him the first time he went back to pass and got a turnover out of it. They didn't score and we did."

After three fruitless drives led to a 13-0 deficit, Denver coach Josh McDaniels summoned Orton, who hadn't practiced all week but threw well enough in warm-ups to give it a go.

"I thought it was a bit of a desperation tactic," Merriman said. "Or they brought him in to move the ball."

Orton quickly drove the Broncos 60 yards on three completions. But on first-and-goal at the 4, rookie running back Knowshon Moreno fumbled away the ball and the game when left guard Russ Hochstein slipped and jarred the ball loose with his knee.

While the Chargers celebrated Gregory's recovery in the end zone, the Broncos let their frustrations get the better of them. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall got in Moreno's face and Moreno responded with a two-handed shove -- the most fight the Broncos showed all afternoon.

"Those are plays that, um, kind of kill drives. We've just got to punch it in next time," said Marshall, who called this "the most frustrating game I've ever played in."

Although Moreno, who took the blame for trying to reach the ball over the goal line on first down, brushed off the sideline spat as a heat-of-the-moment thing, Marshall said he wasn't sorry.

"I don't regret anything. This is a playoff game. There were guys on the sideline that weren't angry, who didn't have a lot of emotion, then they need to look themselves in the mirror. This is a game where you've got to have it. None of us can make any terrible plays," he said.

Marshall grew agitated when a reporter pointed out that his own teammate appeared to cause the fumble and asked if he would have berated Moreno had he known that.

"I'm not sure, I didn't see the play. That single play didn't beat us. I don't know what you're trying to accomplish here, but it's not Knowshon's fault, not one guy's fault," Marshall said. "We lost as a team. If I drop a ball, if I make a huge mistake, I expect guys to get on me. But you've got to know how to approach every guy. It's different for every guy. Maybe I handled it wrong, but we'll see."

Orton, who finished 15 of 29 for 171 yards and an interception, while playing almost exclusively out of the shotgun, was called upon when the Broncos decided to ditch their game plan down 13-0 and go to the air. Orton said he had no setbacks despite a scary hit on his injured leg from Merriman, and would be able to practice this week and start Thursday night against the New York Giants.

Simms last started on Sept. 24, 2006, when he played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was battered so badly by the Carolina Panthers that he needed emergency surgery to remove his spleen.

This one was painful in its own way. The biggest blind-side hit came not from the Chargers but his own coach. Simms never saw the quick hook coming.

"I wasn't expecting it," Simms said. "Yeah, I guess I was a little surprised."

Game notes


Broncos S Brian Dawkins (neck) missed the second half. The Broncos didn't know the extent of his injury. ... Chargers RT Jeromey Clary was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with a left leg injury.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
SD
DEN
1st Downs2114
Passing 1st downs
97
Rushing 1st downs
106
1st downs from penalties
21
3rd down efficiency
5-132-9
4th down efficiency
1-10-3
Total Plays6553
Total Yards348271
Yards per play5.45.1
Total Drives1111
Passing145156
Comp-Att
17-2217-33
Yards per pass
6.64.3
Interceptions thrown
01
Sacks-Yards Lost
0-03-25
Rushing203115
Rushing Attempts
4317
Yards per rush
4.76.8
Red Zone (Made-Att)3-60-4
Penalties1-159-65
Turnovers03
Fumbles lost
02
Interceptions thrown
01
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession37:5222:08

Passing Leaders

SDC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Rivers17/221456.6100-0
DENC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Orton15/291715.9011-7
Simms2/4102.5002-18

Rushing Leaders

SDCARYDSAVGTDLG
Tomlinson20733.7121
Tolbert7588.3132
DENCARYDSAVGTDLG
Moreno10808.0036
Buckhalter7355.009

Receiving Leaders

SDRECYDSAVGTDLG
Jackson45614.0023
Gates34113.7024
DENRECYDSAVGTDLG
Gaffney35518.3038
Buckhalter34615.3025

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERSDDEN
sdTD6:03Legedu Naanee 2 Yard Pass From Philip Rivers (Nate Kaeding Kick is Good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 69 yds, 4:37
70
SECOND QUARTERSDDEN
sdFG10:58Nate Kaeding 28 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 46 yds, 7:14
100
sdFG4:24Nate Kaeding 47 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 9 plays, 44 yds, 5:33
130
THIRD QUARTERSDDEN
denFG9:59Matt Prater 23 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 9 plays, 59 yds, 3:58
133
sdTD6:52Ladainian Tomlinson 1 Yard Run (Nate Kaeding Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 41 yds, 3:08
203
FOURTH QUARTERSDDEN
sdFG14:10Nate Kaeding 28 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 9 plays, 50 yds, 4:45
233
sdFG10:33Nate Kaeding 19 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 6 plays, 51 yds, 2:54
263
sdTD0:39Mike Tolbert 8 Yard Run (Nate Kaeding Kick is No Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 28 yds, 2:55
323