Denver’s comeback began in the third quarter, because, well, that’s when things got as bad as they were going to get. In the first half, the Broncos’ offense tallied just two first downs and 60 total yards as the running game was anemic and Lock and the passing game failed to find traction.
“You’re being nice by just saying so bad,” Head Coach Vic Fangio said of the first half. “It was worse than that.”
The Chargers then opened the second half with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to extend their lead to 21-3. After Lock and Co. responded with another three-and-out — their fourth in their first seven drives, excluding a kneel down to end the first half — the Chargers added a field goal to push the lead to 21 points.
The Chargers’ win probability jumped as high as 98.8 percent after the Los Angeles field goal.
A Phillip Lindsay 55-yard touchdown, though, gave the Broncos their first touchdown of the game, and a Bryce Callahan interception in the end zone negated a Lock pick deep in Denver territory.
“Defensively we fought — Bryce had a hell of an interception, after we threw one, that kind of changed the whole momentum swing,” safety Justin Simmons said. “It was great, all that matters is when you get a win. I’m just so proud of how we fought.”
The Broncos entered the fourth quarter trailing by 14 but with possession of the ball.
Spurred by a 43-yard Jerry Jeudy catch-and-run and a 9-yard strike from Lock to Albert Okwuegbunam, the Broncos cut the lead to seven with 11:42 to play. The Chargers regained a 10-point lead with 7:57 left, but the Broncos needed just two plays to cut the lead to three, as Lock found DaeSean Hamilton for a 40-yard touchdown after Lindsay started the drive with a 20-yard run.
Again, the Broncos’ defense was unable to force a punt, but they took advantage of an illegal crackback block on Hunter Henry that pushed the Chargers behind the chains and held LA to a field goal.
“They’re a good offense but we did manage to get enough stops there late in the game, holding them to field goals and by God, we won that game,” Fangio said.