ReFo: Chargers @ Broncos, Week 8
A fourth win on the bounce pushed the AFC-leading Denver Broncos to 6-1, handing a third defeat of the year (and second in a row) to the San Diego Chargers.
In truth the game was close for large portions but a scintillating start to the second half created the kind of separation that was just too much to overcome for the Philip Rivers and his Charger teammates. With Jason Verrett exiting the game and Brandon Flowers not playing, the mismatch of the San Diego backup cornerbacks against the Broncos’ receivers proved too much an obstacle to overcome, leaving their rematch later on in the year something to eagerly wait for.
San Diego Chargers – Performances of Note
Eric Weddle, S: +3.9
Breakdown: Weddle didn’t make a lot of plays, but the plays he did make stood out. The stat sheet won’t remember his one-handed pick, but he outfoxed Peyton Manning, and while that was taken off the board by a defensive holding penalty, he came back with a forced fumble that could have proved crucial. Two game-changing plays that circumstance dictated didn’t change the game.
Signature Play: With 13.44 to go in the game and the Broncos looking to build an insurmountable lead, Peyton Manning throws for an easy touchdown pass. Except Weddle has read him all the way and picks him off. The play was called back for defensive holding on Marcus Gilchrist, but that doesn’t change the play Weddle made.
Shareece Wright, CB: -3.3
Breakdown: This could just have easily been written about Richard Marshall, so poor were both men thrust into action. Wright made a couple of nice plays in the game (notably an early pass break-up at the start of the second quarter) but spent the rest of the evening getting picked on as Demaryius Thomas had his way with him.
Signature Stat: Allowed a game-worst 3.06 yards per coverage snap into his coverage.
Philip Rivers, QB: +2.3
Breakdown: A late ill-advised desperation heave to Malcom Floyd that was picked off aside, a good effort from Rivers who walked away with a 75.6% adjusted accuracy score. His deep ball decision making wasn’t as good as we’ve come to expect, but he was money on the intermediate throws that kept the chains moving.
Signature Stat: On passes thrown between 10 and 19 yards in the air he completed six of eight attempts.
Denver Broncos – Performances of Note
Ronnie Hillman, RB: +4.2
Breakdown: There’s no denying Hillman has added a spark to the Broncos’ running game. His decisive cutting and ability to get to the second level quickly is ensuring some inconsistent run blocking isn’t holding the team back. A big effort and just a shame he didn’t get his just rewards with a touchdown.
Signature Play: With 2.26 to go in the third, Hillman takes a handoff. His primary read of the right A gap is blocked off with Sean Lissemore getting there so he makes a cut to the left B gap, turns on the jets and is away for a 37-yard gain.
Brandon Marshall, LB: +3.1
Breakdown: It felt like there wasn’t a Chargers offensive play that went by where Marshall wasn’t making a defensive stop. The Chargers clearly felt they could have some joy dumping it off to Branden Oliver in space, but Marshall effectively shut down that outlet with tremendous closing speed and tackling ability, getting beat just once on the dump-offs.
Signature Stat: Ended the game with 10 defensive stops. The whole team combined for 21.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR: +2.0
Breakdown: His last significant action was to fumble, which spoiled an otherwise perfect night. From his first target where he made two defenders miss to pick up a first down, to his third touchdown, he was simply too much for any Chargers reserve defensive back to handle.
Signature Play: With 39 seconds left in the first half, Sanders breezes past Richard Marshall to turn his ‘go’ route into six points.
PFF Game Ball
It would have been Sanders but for what could have been a costly fumble. Instead Ronnie Hillman is a worthy recipient.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled