DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 18: Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers reacts after a play against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 18, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Chargers 30-23. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Chargers lost a “must-win” game in Denver with a final score of 23-30.
The two quarterbacks could not have played different roles. The Chargers almost managed to win the game despite Philip Rivers. The Broncos won the game because of Peyton Manning.
Bolts defense got on the board first.
Cornerback Marcus Gilchrist sent a Manning pass straight up in the air and down into the hands of safety Eric Weddle. Weddle ran it in for six points. At the end of the first quarter, San Diego looked like they came to play.
Then Manning went to work.
He drove his team down the field in six plays for 43 yards and it was tied at seven.
Rivers took the field and promptly threw an interception, his 13th of the season, first of two on the night.
Broncos turned it into three points and took the lead 10-7. They wouldn’t give up that lead the rest of the game.
Chargers’ offensive line was the reason behind a frustrated Rivers and an inability to move the ball down field. It was also the reason punter Mike Scifres’ punt was blocked for the second time in as many weeks.
Denver’s linebacker Von Miller wreaked havoc on the Chargers line all night. He had six tackles and three sacks, including the hit he laid on Scifres.
Manning went to work and in one play widened the gap. The game went into the half with Denver up 17-7.
San Diego came out with life in the second half. Kicker Nick Novak's onside kick was recovered by special teams captain Darrell Stuckey. But the offense couldn’t do anything with it.
The defense was there to try and keep the Bolts in the game.
Linebacker Shaun Phillips sacked Manning in the endzone for a two-point safety. Score was 17-9 Broncos.
Chargers couldn’t capitalize on the extra possession and after a few more possession exchanges Manning drove down the field and connected with wide receiver Eric Decker.
New score was 24-9 Denver.
Rivers then put together a drive of his own. And this one looked like the old Rivers -- the 2009 Pro-Bowl elite quarterback Rivers.
Twelve plays, 80 yards and finished by finding wide receiver Danario Alexander in the endzone.
Alexander was one of the few bright spots in the Chargers’ offense. He had seven receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns, including one in the fourth quarter which gave the Chargers one last chance to put together a game-winning fourth quarter drive.
They couldn’t get it done.
Final score: Broncos 30, Chargers 23.