It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…pardon me if I don’t insert the GEICO Foghorn rant about Aunt Jenny’s corn puddin’.
No, it was the best of times and the worst of times…a tale of two cities’ football teams…and two halves.
The Chargers dominated the Broncos in every phase of the game in the first half, going up 24-0 at halftime. Philip Rivers caught fire after a bit of a slow start as the two teams exchanged punts to begin the contest. He was actually looking like one of the top-tier passers he’s supposed to have been, but never quite attained. He was firing strike after perfect strike to his receivers and the Chargers’ defense had Peyton Manning and the running game stymied at every turn.
Even when Manning hit a wide-open Eric Decker at the 30 with nobody within 30 yards of him, he caught the ball. That’s the good news. The bad news? He tripped over his own feet, fell down, and couldn’t get back up (paging Mrs. Fletcher!) before he was touched down by contact.
On the next play, he misread an adjustment, ran a go pattern when the call was for either a curl or a screen (only Manning knew for sure, that much was apparent), and Chargers’ CB Quentin Jammer caught it instead…with nothing but green grass and yardage markers in front of him. 80 yards later, he was in the end zone. OUCH!
All I have to say there is Norv Turner must have stunk the joint out with his halftime speech and/or a football terrorist pumped in marijuana smoke into the locker room as a de-motivational aid. Valium in the Gatorade? Something.
The tale of the second half was was the exact opposite as the ole wily veteran Peyton Manning went 13-for-14 passing for 167 yards and 3 TDs while holding off on any more interceptions for another time as the Broncos scored 35 unanswered points to grab the victory, 35-24.
It was Manning’s 47th career come from behind 4th-quarter victory, tying Dan Marino’s all-time mark. It was also only the second time in NFL history a road team has overcome a 24-point-plus deficit to win a ball game.
Since San Diego was involved, it sort of reminded me of the infamous Miami at San Diego playoff game – in 1981, before the Dan Marino era – when the Chargers leapt out to a 24-0 lead on Shula’s Dolphins. Shula inserted superbackup Don Strock, who led them to ultimately have a late lead, only to lose by 3 on a late field goal by Chargers’ kicker Rolf Benershke. Yes, the famous “hook-and-lateral” play was the final play of the first half in that one.
This time, the team that was down came back to win instead of just making it an exciting ball game. 3 second-half interceptions by Philip Rivers helped as well. He just wilted under pressure and seemingly spent more time whining and lobbying for penalties every play rather than concentrating on doing his job.
Any lingering doubts about Manning’s ability now?
I didn’t think so.
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