Monday Night Football score, highlights, stats: Siemian leads Broncos over Chargers
The Broncos might actually have an offense, and the Chargers should feel better than they likely do
The Chargers are known for their ability to give away really close games in really bad fashion. For once, they appeared willing to let someone else do the Chargering for them, as the Broncos tried to give away the game after stopping the Chargers on 4th-and-1 during the middle of the fourth quarter.
The Chargers were toast. Then the Broncos threw a crazy tip off two toes (with Rex Ryan in the booth no less!) that the Chargers intercepted. One Keenan Allen touchdown later and things were a little spicy. When Jamaal Charles fumbled, things got weird. When Philip Rivers went up top to Travis Benjamin it felt like the Chargers were just going to steal the game.
But things have a weird way of not working out for Los Angeles, and they didn't work out late on Monday night/early Tuesday morning. A bizarre series of decisions from the Chargers in terms of clock management allowed time to melt away (they waited for a measurement on one play then ran on third-and-1 despite having less than a minute on the clock) but a pass interference penalty got them in field goal range.
Rookie kicker Younghoe Koo buried his first attempt, but Vance Joseph managed to ice him. The second kick was blocked and Denver got a win, 24-21, they tried to give away.
The Broncos get the W, but both teams can claim moral victories here. The Chargers looked dead in the water and much like same old team. Then they caught fire late and we saw what we thought this team could be; Rivers was slinging it deep and ended up with a pretty nice game, while the duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram turned on the gas and put major league pressure on Trevor Siemian.
Los Angeles might not know how to win games, or just might not be lucky, but this is a team with the talent to be great.
Denver is better than we think -- Siemian was slinging it around (more on him in a minute) and the defense isn't going to drop off from last year. With the weapons on hand for Siemian to throw to, and a capable group of running backs, it's not hard to see this team staying in the race for the AFC West over the course of the season.
A game that looked like a blowout became fun all of a sudden, and while it's a dagger L for the Chargers, it could be a springboard for both teams.
Here's what you need to know from Denver's 24-21 win.
The Broncos might have a QB
There was a real point in time when the Broncos were considering starting Paxton Lynch over Trevor Siemian, or at least desperately trying to make it a competition. That feels like folly right now, considering how well Siemian played on Monday night against what was supposed to be a stout Chargers defense. The Broncos quarterback went 17 for 28 with 218 yards, two touchdowns and just one interception while making things happen on the ground as well.
Siemian, a former seventh-round pick out of Northwestern, studied under Peyton Manning for a year before taking over as the starter in 2016. He appears to have taken some pretty big steps as a quarterback this offseason, finding open receivers and slinging some very impressive passes while under pressure.
He decided to juke Joey Bosa out of his pants just for fun on his first ever rushing touchdown.
Siemian's first passing touchdown was on a free play after the Chargers jumped offsides, but that only makes me like it more. Knowing he was not going to turn the ball over, Siemian rolled out to the right and whipped a pass to the back of the end zone, finding a leaping Bennie Fowler for a score.
The awareness of Siemian to get the play off quickly, roll out and put the pass in a spot where Fowler could go up and get it, along with the surprising arm strength to get the ball back there while on the run -- there might be a little more upside to Siemian running this offense than most people thought.
The Chargers offense needs to be consistent
It is entirely possible that Joe Woods' defensive unit is good. It's likely: the Broncos are a really good defensive team. But the Chargers, man, were just woeful on offense for a lot of this game. There were stretches where Melvin Gordon got some big holes to run through, but by and large the Bolts were not good moving the ball.
With the score 24-7 and the Chargers squatting on a 4th-and-1, desperate to try and pick up a yard to stay alive, they ran Gordon right into the middle. Todd Davis destroyed him before he even got the ball.
By the time a pass from Siemian went off two toes for a Chargers interception to give L.A. a breath of life late in the fourth quarter, the Chargers had mustered just 140 yards of total offense. Hunter Henry was nowhere to be found (literally no catches) and Keenan Allen didn't emerge until a late touchdown.
There's too much talent at the skill positions here for Los Angeles not to be more explosive. It was like the Chargers wanted to play it close to the vest against a dangerous defense. That's ... fine? But there were multiple times down the stretch where Los Angeles didn't look like it was on the same page on the decision-making front.
The best part of the night for the Chargers was the decision to bleep it and chuck it deep. it panned out well for Rivers and his receivers; there's no reason to be overly conservative with the weapons on hand here.
It's also possible this team looks better against a lesser defense. Give credit to the Broncos who consistently got pressure on Rivers and who had the receivers on lockdown throughout the first three quarters of the game.
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