- Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: The Broncos closed the door on San Diego’s Cinderella season, but the Chargers provided a bit of a scare for Denver late by scoring all 17 of their points in the fourth quarter. San Diego’s banged-up offense struggled to move the ball early. The Chargers had just 259 total yards. The Chargers finished 9-7 in the regular season and 1-1 in the postseason.
Chargers limp to the finish: San Diego could not overcome several injuries that left the Chargers shorthanded. Running back Ryan Mathews tried to play through a balky left ankle injury. However, Mathews was mostly ineffective, finishing with 26 yards on five carries. Mathews did not play in the second half. Right guard Jeromey Clary was inactive due to a shoulder injury, with Johnnie Troutman replacing him at right guard. Linebacker Manti Te'o (concussion), safety Marcus Gilchrist (shoulder) and punter Mike Scifres (back) all suffered injuries during the game. Te'o did not return.
Rivers faces pressure: Playing behind a makeshift offensive line, Philip Rivers was under pressure most of the contest. Rivers was sacked four times, finishing with 217 passing yards and two touchdown passes. Once again, Keenan Allen was Rivers’ favorite target, finishing with six catches for 142 yards and two touchdown catches. Allen became the first rookie with 100-plus receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in a playoff game since Willie Green against Dallas in 1992.
Penalty watch: San Diego coach Mike McCoy’s team has usually been a disciplined group, but the Chargers finished with eight penalties for 63 yards, including four neutral zone infractions.
Stock watch: Undrafted rookie free agent safety Jahleel Addae was one of the few bright spots for the Chargers. He finished with a team-high eight combined tackles, and also forced Denver tight end Julius Thomas to fumble, which was recovered by cornerback Richard Marshall. The play kept the Chargers in the game in the first half.
What’s next: San Diego begins preparing for the draft.
6dEric D. Williams
8dEric D. Williams