- Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: The Chargers (4-5) fall under the .500 mark for the first time since a Week 5 loss at Oakland. San Diego is 0-2 against the AFC West this season.
Comeback falls short: Down 28-6 in the second half, the Chargers could have easily packed it in and mentally started getting ready for next week. They didn't. San Diego scratched its way back to 28-20 with just over 10 minutes left, but failed to get past midfield on the potential game-tying drive.
Demaryius Thomas thrives: San Diego's smallish corners had trouble dealing with Denver's big-bodied receiver Demaryius Thomas, who finished with seven receptions for 108 yards, including three touchdowns. The Chargers' secondary has struggled with big receivers all year. Denver tight end Julius Thomas -- another big, fast player -- finished with three receptions for 96 yards and one touchdown.
Redemption for Mathews: After gaining just 34 yards on seven carries last week, Ryan Mathews rebounded with a solid performance, finishing with 59 yards on 14 carries, including a 35-yard run. Mathews also had a 1-yard touchdown run on a goal-line play that San Diego would have been wise to use last week, when the Chargers failed to get the winning score from a yard out against Washington. The Chargers rushed for 131 yards as a team, but 113 of those yards came in the first half.
Cox benched again: For a second straight game, San Diego’s top free-agent addition, cornerback Derek Cox, was benched for poor play. Cox failed to get Denver tight end Julius Thomas out of bounds on his 74-yard reception for a score in the opening quarter, and received an earful from defensive coordinator John Pagano on the sideline after the play. Cox later returned to the game after fellow cornerback Shareece Wright suffered an apparent leg injury. Cox was benched in the second half of San Diego’s overtime loss to Washington last week.
What’s next: The Chargers hit the road and travel to Miami for an afternoon game next Sunday.