Chargers Burn Broncos In 41-3 Romp
Monday, October 8th 2007, 10:47 am
News On 6
DENVER (AP) _ The San Diego Chargers handed the Denver Broncos their worst home loss since 1966 by rediscovering their winning formula: hold onto the ball.
And the best way to do that is by handing it to reigning MVP LaDainian Tomlinson and his trusty backup, Michael Turner, who led the Chargers to a 41-3 rout of the reeling Broncos.
The fans braved the cold and windy weather at Invesco Field, but could not deal with the dismal defense, emptying out before the fourth quarter had begun.
L.T. amassed 140 yards, including 73 on three receptions, and Turner added 147 yards on 10 carries, highlighted by a 74-yard touchdown trot along the Broncos' bewildered sideline in the fourth quarter.
One week after committing four turnovers, the Chargers (2-3) had none in ending their three-game skid by winning consecutive games in Denver for the first time since 1967-68.
They handed the Broncos (2-3), losers of three straight, their worst home loss since the Kansas City Chiefs' 56-10 thumping on Oct. 23, 1966.
Philip Rivers, who had nine turnovers coming in, played keepaway, throwing for 270 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-18 passing for a nearly perfect quarterback rating of 151.4. He also had his first career touchdown run.
Broncos troubled tailback Travis Henry, the league's leading rusher whose future is in legal limbo while he fights the NFL over a drug test result, gained 65 yards on 16 carries.
Henry is facing a one-year suspension for allegedly failing a drug test last month. He has sued the NFL in hopes of having the test results nullified, and he'll carry Denver's rushing load until the case is resolved.
The Chargers seized control by scoring touchdowns 11 seconds apart in the first quarter. They took a 20-3 halftime lead despite not having a single reception by a wide receiver in the first half.
Rivers started the rout by taking it in from the 2, ending Denver's league-long streak of 22 games without allowing an opening-drive TD.
Brian Clark, re-signed last week after the Broncos gave up on kick returner Domenik Hixon, caught the kickoff 5 yards into the end zone, ran it out and fumbled on a hard hit by Carlos Polk. Brandon Siler grabbed the ball in the air and sprinted to the end zone, punching it past the left pylon for a 14-0 lead.
The Broncos then were driving for a score when receiver Brandon Marshall coughed up the ball inside the Chargers 10-yard line after a gain of 26 yards. San Diego's Quentin Jammer recovered.
Nate Kaeding's 26-yard field goal made it 17-0 one play after Broncos perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey strained his left quadriceps while covering tight end Antonio Gates. Cornerback Dre' Bly also came up gimpy in the second half.
Denver quarterback Jay Cutler didn't have his top receiver, Javon Walker (knee), who missed his second straight game, and he lost slot receiver Brandon Stokley (head) and top tight end Nate Jackson (groin) during the game.
Cutler failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in his 10 NFL starts. His streak had been the longest to start a career since Mark Rypien tossed TD passes in his first 11 games for Washington in the late 1980s.
The Broncos pulled to 17-3 on Jason Elam's 30-yard field goal with 1:15 left in the first half _ just enough time for the Chargers to respond with Kaeding's 45-yarder after Turner reeled off a 45-yard gain on the league's second-worst run defense.
Gates, who caught seven passes for 113 yards, made it 27-3 with a 9-yard catch. Vincent Jackson gained 45 yards on a pass on second-and-33 in the drive.
Jackson's 15-yard TD catch made it 34-3 and sent the chilled crowd to the exits.