Broncos 35

(3-3, 1-2 away)

Chargers 24

(3-3, 1-2 home)

Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

8:30 PM ET, October 15, 2012

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA 

1 2 3 4 T
DEN 0 0 14 2135
SD 10 14 0 024

Top Performers

Passing: P. Manning (DEN) - 309 YDS, 3 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: R. Mathews (SD) - 22 CAR, 74 YDS

Receiving: E. Decker (DEN) - 6 REC, 98 YDS, 1 TD

Broncos-Chargers Preview


Save for one shaky performance, Peyton Manning has done most everything the Denver Broncos expected when they signed him to a lucrative deal in the offseason.

He can't do much if Denver can't hang onto the football, though.

Manning hopes his rough recent history versus the host San Diego Chargers doesn't play a role when the turnover-prone Broncos look to even the division race in Monday night's showdown between AFC West rivals.

The future Hall of Fame quarterback is having another solid season after missing 2011 following a series of neck surgeries, ranking fourth in the NFL with a 101.2 passer rating.

Manning threw three interceptions in a 27-21 loss to Atlanta on Sept. 17, but he's completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 1,013 yards, eight touchdowns and no picks over his last three games.

He finished 31 of 44 for 345 yards and three TDs in last Sunday's 31-21 loss to New England, but the Broncos committed three turnovers -- including Manning's fumble in the third quarter.

"There are a lot of what-ifs," Manning said. "The key is that we learn from them and hopefully we can respond next week with the win."

Denver (2-3), which has lost three of four after a season-opening win over Pittsburgh, is tied for 28th with a minus-6 turnover differential, and the defense played over 35 minutes last weekend.

"The problem has been getting the ball back to our offense," coach John Fox said. "We have to do a better job. It's something I can promise you will get better, and it will get addressed. In time, hopefully, we get it."

Demaryius Thomas caught nine passes for a career-high 180 yards, but he lost a fumble for a third straight game.

"We have guys that won't quit," Thomas said. "I feel like that can build a great team, it just has to start clicking. And early, take care of the ball and put points on the board."

Manning, though, hasn't been very good against San Diego (3-2) in recent years. He's lost five of his last six starts including the postseason, throwing 11 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions. Manning threw a career-most six INTs versus the Chargers on Nov. 11, 2007, and four the last time he faced them in a 36-14 defeat Nov. 28, 2010.

Denver ended a four-game losing streak to San Diego with a 16-13 overtime win Nov. 27.

"Obviously, division opponents are very critical," Fox said. "We'll remain focused. Our guys will remain positive, despite all the noise on the outside. We have another opportunity, is all I can say, against a division team."

Phillip Rivers is 9-3 in his starts against the Broncos, completing 64.4 percent of his passes and throwing 20 touchdowns -- his most versus any team.

Rivers finished 27 of 42 for 354 yards and two touchdowns last Sunday, but it wasn't enough to help avoid a 31-24 loss to previously winless New Orleans after the Chargers held a 10-point lead until late in the third quarter.

"I can't tell you how tough it is to lose a game like this," Rivers said. "We were right there. We were up by 10 points and just didn't get it done. We have a great team, a championship-caliber team, but we have to win close games like this."

Though San Diego had trouble containing Drew Brees, coach Norv Turner is hoping Monday's home crowd will have an impact after two straight on the road.

"Monday night I expect our fans to have a big part in it. It's part of the reason that we've had a lot of success against Manning," Turner said. "They're an off-the-line or a no-huddle team and the crowd can affect that greatly."

The Chargers also hope to get another solid performance from Ryan Mathews, who rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown while adding 59 yards receiving last week. He's been stellar in each of his three career games versus the Broncos, scoring three times and averaging 127.3 rushing yards.

Denver leading rusher Willis McGahee had similar efforts in the last two meetings, running for 125 yards in a 29-24 home loss Oct. 9, 2011, and 117 in the most recent matchup.

The Chargers, though, have the NFL's fifth-ranked rush defense, allowing an average of 74.0 yards. McGahee is the only opposing back to exceed 100 yards rushing in San Diego's last 12 games.


Passing Leaders

P. Manning59.82249917
B. Osweiler61.81967106
P. Rivers66.147922913
K. Clemens83.36310

Rushing Leaders

R. Hillman2078634.27
C. Anderson1527204.75
M. Gordon1846413.50
D. Woodhead983363.43

Receiving Leaders

D. Thomas105130412.46
E. Sanders76113514.96
D. Woodhead807559.46
K. Allen6772510.84

Team Averages & NFL Ranks

Total YardsDEN
Yards PassingDEN
Yards RushingDEN
Yards AllowedDEN
Pass Yds AllowedDEN
Rush Yds AllowedDEN

Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)

Series tied 12-12
Nov 27, 2011DEN 16, @SD 13
Oct 9, 2011DEN 24, SD 29
Jan 2, 2011DEN 28, SD 33
Nov 22, 2010DEN 14, @SD 35
Nov 22, 2009DEN 3, SD 32
Oct 19, 2009DEN 34, @SD 23
Dec 28, 2008DEN 21, @SD 52
Sep 14, 2008DEN 39, SD 38
Dec 24, 2007DEN 3, @SD 23
Oct 7, 2007DEN 3, SD 41
Dec 10, 2006DEN 20, @SD 48
Nov 19, 2006DEN 27, SD 35
Dec 31, 2005DEN 23, @SD 7
Sep 18, 2005DEN 20, SD 17
Dec 5, 2004DEN 17, @SD 20
Sep 26, 2004DEN 23, SD 13
Nov 16, 2003DEN 37, SD 8
Sep 14, 2003DEN 37, @SD 13
Dec 1, 2002DEN 27, @SD 30
Oct 6, 2002DEN 26, SD 9
Nov 11, 2001DEN 26, SD 16
Oct 21, 2001DEN 10, @SD 27

Research Notes

NEXT LEVEL: It could be a battle in the backfield Monday between the Broncos, who have allowed the fewest yards after first contact behind the line of scrimmage since 2011, and the Chargers, who have gained the most yards after first contact behind the line of scrimmage this season.
Peyton Manning didn't complete a pass thrown more than 20 yards downfield in his first two games this season, but has since gone 7-of-13 on such throws. However, four of his completions have come with the Broncos trailing by 10-plus points.
Philip Rivers completed just 46.9 percent of his throws last season when the Broncos sent five or more pass rushers. The Broncos have the fifth-best completion percentage against on such pressure this season (52.2) and Rivers has continued to regress in the face of an added rush.
Philip Rivers' average pass is traveling 6.7 yards downfield this season (31st) after traveling 9.0 yards downfield last season (ninth). The dip can be attributed to the loss of Vincent Jackson, whose average target was 17.0 yards downfield from 2008 to 2011. Rivers finished outside the top 10 in average throw distance just once during that time, in 2010 when Jackson missed 11 games.

ESPN Stats & Information