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Keys to victory: Chargers 27, Broncos 20

It is not unusual for Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers to win a game of the nature of Thursday’s victory over the Denver Broncos at this juncture of the season.

The Chargers are 31-6 in December/January regular-season games since the start of the 2006 season and Rivers is 10-3 as a starter in those two months in the regular season against teams with a winning record. The latter mark rates best in the NFL in that span; the former ranks second-best, trailing only the New England Patriots, who are 32-4.

What were the statistical keys to this Chargers victory?

Broncos' offense limited in middle two quarters

Peyton Manning and the Broncos made things look easy in quickly taking a 7-0 lead. He completed four of his first five throws that traveled at least 15 yards downfield, good for 79 yards and a touchdown.

2nd and 3rd Quarters, Thursday

The Broncos racked up 122 yards on 15 plays in the game’s first 15 minutes, but totaled only 31 yards on 16 plays in the next 30 minutes.

The Broncos entered the game with at least 40 total yards in every quarter this season, but failed to reach that in either the second or third quarters Thursday.

The Chargers took the deep throw away almost completely.

Manning completed only one of five throws of 15 or more yards in the last three quarters of the game.

This game also marked only the second time this season in which the Broncos had three consecutive drives in which they ran three plays then punted.

Ryan Mathews gets it done on the ground

Ryan Mathews rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown, the second straight week he cleared 100 yards and accounted for a score. He managed 37 yards on four rushes to the left side, including his 23-yard touchdown run. Mostly he went up the middle -- 22 times for 75 yards.

He's the first player to rush for at least 100 yards in a game against the Broncos this season (the last to do so in the regular season was Jamaal Charles in Week 12 of 2012, when he had 107 yards for the Kansas City Chiefs).

Mathews' 127 yards were the most by anyone in a regular-season game against the Broncos since Stevan Ridley of the Patriots had 151 in 2012's Week 5. Ray Rice also had 131 rushing yards against Denver in last season's divisional playoff game.

Unsung MVP: Mike Scifres

Chargers punter Mike Scifres punted only three times, averaging 42 yards per kick, but he had a huge impact on the game. His three punts pinned the Broncos on their own 6-, 11- and 3-yard line.

Broncos Thursday vs. Chargers

Denver did score on one of those three drives, but the other two were a three-and-out (after which the Chargers scored) and Manning's fourth-quarter interception.

The Broncos' average post-punt field position (their own 7) was the worst for any team against a single punter in any game in which a punter punted multiple times in 2013.

Elias Sports Bureau Stat of the Game

Rivers became the second starting quarterback to beat the Manning brothers in consecutive weeks, joining Vince Young, who did it in 2006.