|Norv Turner had a lot of reasons to be upset after the Chargers blew a 24-0 lead to the Broncos. (US Presswire)|
There is no sugar-coating the Chargers (3-3) 35-24 loss to the Broncos (3-3) on Monday night. San Diego blew a 24-0 halftime lead. This historic collapse will surely be replayed for years to come as one of the top second half meltdowns in NFL history. But not all three phases were responsible for the disaster, special teams graded out higher than last week.
Ignore the 24 points scored before halftime; the offense scuffled early and often. They squandered a turnover on a muffed punt which gave them field possession on the Broncos' 17-yard line. Four plays later San Diego settled for a 32-yard Nick Novak field goal. Another drive resulted in no points after reaching the Broncos' 27 because penalties backed the Chargers out of field goal range. However, it was the poor play-calling that led to five second-half turnovers and no points that earns this failing grade. Previous game's grade: C
The defense allowed QB Peyton Manning to complete 13-of-14 passes for 167 yards and three TDs in the second half. That, however, accounts for only 21 points and the Chargers had a 24-point lead. The defense is spared a failing grade because they shut Manning out in the first half and scored on a CB Quentin Jammer 80-yard interception return for a TD. Previous game's grade: C-
Special Teams: A-
The special teams recovered fumbles on consecutive kicks (punt and kickoff). The turnovers gave the offense the ball on the 17 and 19 yard lines and resulted in 10 points. Novak made the one field goal he attempted. P Mike Scifres landed both of his punts inside the 20. WR-KR Richard Goodman returned one kickoff for 38 yards. The coverage unit held CB-KR Omar Bolden to 24 yards on two kick returns and Denver attempted no returns on punts. The only detractors were WR Eddie Royal, who returned two punts for just 7 yards, and FS Eric Weddle, who muffed and recovered a fair catch punt. Previous game's grade: B
Failing is too high a grade for Norv Turner's decision-making in the second half. Mike Riley, who led the Chargers to a 1-15 record in 2000, would not have blown a 24-0 lead. Turner's first bad decision was to allow the defense to start the second half with an almost prevent look. Manning promptly marched down the field 85 yards for the Broncos first TD. Turner then virtually abandoned the running game. RB Ryan Mathews rushed for 47 yards on 15 attempts through the first half with 33 yards in the second quarter. Mathews had only seven carries in the second half, averaging 3.86 yards per carry for 27 yards. Instead of going to Mathews, Turner called plays that allowed Rivers to turn the ball over five times. Previous game's grade: C-