Rapid Reaction: Broncos 35, Chargers 24

October, 16, 2012
10/16/12
12:06
AM ET

SAN DIEGO -- A look at an all-time Monday Nighter by the sea:

What it means: The AFC West landscape had changed. With a bang. In the wildest game of the NFL season, the Denver Broncos shocked the San Diego Chargers in what could define the AFC West season. Both teams are 3-3 and tied for first place in the division.

Did that really happen? San Diego led 24-0 at the half? According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Chargers had a 98.5 percent win probability at halftime. And get this nugget the fine folks at Stats & Info dug up: Since the Super Bowl era began, a team has led 24-0 at the half 442 times. Just three of those teams lost. Welcome to a lousy club, San Diego.

Manning soars: In all three of Denver’s losses, quarterback Peyton Manning led the team on a big comeback attempt that fell short. He broke the door down Monday night. Manning completed his first 13 passes of the second half and threw three touchdowns. The key Monday night was his teammates matched his intensity during the comeback.

Rivers falls: Meanwhile, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers couldn’t hang with Manning as the Chargers gave up their second double-digit lead in the second half in as many weeks. Rivers threw three of his four interceptions and lost two fumbles in the second half. His turnovers resulted directly in two touchdowns for Denver. It was a tale of two very different quarterbacks when it mattered most.

Decker comes up big: Denver receiver Eric Decker looked like he was going to be a goat. He tripped on what would have been a sure touchdown in the first half. Later that drive, San Diego cornerback Quentin Jammer returned a Manning interception 80 yards for a touchdown; But Decker came back with a second- and third-effort short touchdown catch in the second half as the Broncos roared back.

What’s next: Both teams get to think about this incredible game for a while. Both start their bye week. Denver hosts New Orleans in Week 8, and San Diego travels to Cleveland.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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