But ultimately that's what happened, as their offense stalled three times on Denver's side of the field. San Diego kicker Nick Novak finished field goals of with 40 and 24 yards in the first half, and he missed from 37 yards out.
Meanwhile, Peyton Manning led Denver on three touchdown-scoring drives to help the Broncos take a 21-6 lead at halftime.
“That was really the difference there,” Rivers said. “If we could have scored a couple of times in those early drives, we would have been right there in better shape late in the game.”
Heading into Sunday's contest, the Chargers were tied for 21st in the NFL in red zone efficiency at 50 percent. San Diego maintained its average, finishing 2-of-4 in red zone efficiency against Denver.
“You look at the three opportunities, and you get six points,” San Diego coach Mike McCoy said. “They scored 28. If you score three touchdowns, that's 21. As you go along, that's critical. You've got to finish for touchdowns. But there are certain situations where you wish you could go back.”
Chargers' reunion: Three former San Diego players returned to Qualcomm Stadium to face their former team for the first time.
Jammer, 34, barely made Denver's 53-man roster out of training camp, and has played sparingly. However, Jammer served as an honorary captain and got a rare start against his former team. Normal starter Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie hatched a plan for Jammer to be out there with the starting unit without telling interim head coach Jack Del Rio.
“It felt great, especially with the win,” Jammer said. “I don't know what I would have felt without a win.”
Phillips, 32, has a team-high 7.5 sacks for the Bronco. Phillips took down Rivers, his former teammate, for a sack in the second half, hearing a chorus of boos.
“It's cool, 70 sacks here and they should be happy enough that I got them 70,” Phillips said. “There is no ill will. I do not have anything negative to say about San Diego, nor their fans. They are great fans. I am a Bronco now, and I am happy to be where I am at.”
Offensive lineman Louis Vasquez signed a four-year, $23.5 million deal with the Broncos in free agency. The Texas Tech product has started every game for the Broncos.
Injury update: Fullback Le'Ron McClain (ankle), left tackle King Dunlap (concussion), center Nick Hardwick (neck stinger) and outside linebacker Larry English (biceps) all suffered injuries during the game and did not return.
Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson was inactive for the contest because of a groin injury, the third game he's missed because of the injury.
McCoy said he'll have updates on those injuries when he finds out more information next week.