Final

Chargers 23

(4-6, 2-4 away)

Broncos 30

(7-3, 4-1 home)

Coverage: CBS

4:25 PM ET, November 18, 2012

Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO 

1 2 3 4 T
SD 7 0 9 723
DEN 0 17 7 630

Top Performers

Passing: P. Manning (DEN) - 270 YDS, 3 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: W. McGahee (DEN) - 7 CAR, 55 YDS

Receiving: D. Alexander (SD) - 7 REC, 96 YDS, 2 TD

Peyton Manning, Von Miller lead Broncos to pivotal win over Chargers

ESPN.com news services

DENVER -- Passing by Peyton. Dancing by Von.

On the day Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes and drew even with John Elway in the career win column, it was Broncos linebacker Von Miller who stole the show -- not only with the three sacks and two forced fumbles that rattled Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, but with the ever-evolving sack dance he uses to celebrate.

"You've got to show some excitement when you make a play," Miller said after spearheading a 30-23 victory Sunday that gave Denver a three-game lead over San Diego in the AFC West. "It's hard enough as it is out there."

But the Broncos (7-3) are making this look easy.

With their fifth straight win, they now have a three-game lead plus the tiebreaker over the rapidly fading Chargers (4-6), who lost their fifth of six and are now playing as much for jobs -- namely coach Norv Turner's -- as a playoff spot.

"They're not losing four of six, I can guarantee you that," Rivers said of the Broncos, in essence conceding the division race.

Manning tied Elway with 148 career regular-season victories, second place on the all-time list of starting quarterbacks, with Brett Favre still 38 wins ahead.

And Miller? He now leads the league in sacks with 13, after jumping ahead of Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who had one in Houston's win over Jacksonville on Sunday to reach 11½ for the year.

Miller celebrated his first sack with a pair of somersaults, then by getting up and doing jumping jacks with his arms bent at the elbow while he moved to the imaginary music. He said he was inspired by Sonic the Hedgehog, a character in a video game.

His teammates are every bit as impressed with the production as the celebrations.

"That boy works his butt off and plays with a lot of confidence, and I see him doing it for a long time," cornerback Champ Bailey said.

Miller's disruptiveness contributed to what was, overall, a choppy day for both quarterbacks.

Manning threw for 270 yards on 25-for-42 passing but also threw an interception that got returned for a touchdown by Eric Weddle to open the scoring and got sacked in the end zone by Shaun Phillips for a safety.

Even with those struggles, Manning reached 24 touchdown passes for the season and remained on pace for a 4,700-yard year.

"Everybody's got to have an angle on it," Manning said when asked if this win felt more difficult than it should have. "That's not how I see it. We beat a good football team. I kind of throw the records out the window. To score some points, and to settle for some field goals, and you may actually punt, that's part of playing against a good defense. We'll take the win and run with it."

Midway through the third quarter, the Chargers' defense had accounted for all their scoring. That's when Rivers picked things up. All but 60 of his 258 yards came after San Diego trailed 24-9 and when Danario Alexander leapt over cornerback Tony Carter for a 21-yard touchdown, the Chargers were within 30-23 with 1:24 left.

The Broncos recovered the onside kick and ran some time off the clock. After a punt, Denver defensive end Elvis Dumervil sacked Rivers to seal the victory and extend a Denver winning streak that started Oct. 15 in San Diego, when Manning rallied Denver from 24-0 down for a 35-24 win. It was the first time a team had trailed by that much and gone on to win by double digits.

In the rematch, Turner's defense held the Chargers close, but the offense and Rivers took too long to get going. San Diego only had two first downs in the first half.

"We were not able to get the run going, we had a tough time protecting and they covered us down the field," Turner said. "So, the combination of those three things makes it difficult."

Overshadowed by Manning's arrival in Denver this year has been the blossoming of the Broncos' defense with Miller as the headliner.

Dumervil's late sack gave the Broncos four for the game and 35 for the season. The constant presence of Broncos defenders in the backfield rattled Rivers, who had two touchdowns and two interceptions.

"This is the best defensive team they've had since I've been playing them," the nine-year veteran said.

When Rivers completed a 15-yard pass to Malcom Floyd in the third quarter on third-and-10, it snapped a string of 26 straight holds for the Denver 'D' on third down, dating to the end of a win over Cincinnati two weeks ago. It was the longest streak in the NFL in 10 years.

Miller is putting himself in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year.

He now has eight sacks over the past four weeks, and joined Reggie White, Jevon Kearse and Dwight Freeney as only the fourth player to record 11 or more sacks in his first two seasons. But the second-year player's favorite player is Derrick Thomas. He wears No. 58 as a tribute to the late Chiefs Hall of Famer, and though Miller shuns comparisons, his teammates know they could be looking at a future superstar.

"He's just getting started. He's crazy. Crazy day for him," Dumervil said.

Game notes


Broncos RB Willis McGahee left with an injured right knee and did not return. A source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that McGahee will undergo an MRI on the knee Monday, but the source said the running back "feels good and doesn't think it's serious." ... Playing in his first game after missing the start of the season due to suspension, Broncos LB D.J. Williams finished with four tackles and one for a loss. ... Weddle's interceptions return for a score gave the Chargers defense two touchdowns against Manning this season.

Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press was used in this report.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
SD
DEN
1st Downs1321
Passing 1st downs
1113
Rushing 1st downs
17
1st downs from penalties
11
3rd down efficiency
3-166-16
4th down efficiency
1-20-0
Total Plays6770
Total Yards277386
Yards per play4.15.5
Total Drives1716
Passing224253
Comp-Att
24-4025-42
Yards per pass
5.15.6
Interceptions thrown
21
Sacks-Yards Lost
4-343-17
Rushing53133
Rushing Attempts
2325
Yards per rush
2.35.3
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-00-0
Penalties10-654-30
Turnovers32
Fumbles lost
11
Interceptions thrown
21
Defensive / Special Teams TDs10
Possession31:1828:42

Passing Leaders

SDC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Rivers24/402586.5224-34
DENC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Manning25/422706.4313-17

Rushing Leaders

SDCARYDSAVGTDLG
Mathews15473.1011
Brown492.305
DENCARYDSAVGTDLG
McGahee7557.9015
Hillman12433.6021

Receiving Leaders

SDRECYDSAVGTDLG
Alexander79613.7221
Floyd46716.8038
DENRECYDSAVGTDLG
Stokley45513.8131
Tamme45313.3030

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERSDDEN
sdTD7:00Eric Weddle 23 Yard Interception Return (Nick Novak Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 12 yds, 1:03
70
SECOND QUARTERSDDEN
denTD13:03Demaryius Thomas 13 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 56 yds, 13:03
717
denFG11:37Matt Prater 19 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 4 plays, 7 yds, 1:14
710
denTD1:51Brandon Stokley 31 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 31 yds, 0:00
717
THIRD QUARTERSDDEN
sdSF12:54Peyton Manning Sacked By Shaun Phillips In End Zone For -2 Yards
Drive info: 2 plays, -2 yds, 0:29
917
denTD7:23Eric Decker 20 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 25 yds, 0:17
924
sdTD1:03Danario Alexander 8 Yard Pass From Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick is Good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yds, 6:25
1627
FOURTH QUARTERSDDEN
denFG10:47Matt Prater 30 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 10 plays, 67 yds, 5:15
1627
denFG4:19Matt Prater 32 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 57 yds, 4:56
1630
sdTD1:29Danario Alexander 21 Yard Pass From Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yds, 2:50
2330

Research Notes

Denver shut down San Diego's rushing game by penetrating the backfield. The Chargers were hit at or behind the line of scrimmage on nine of their 23 rushes, and rushed for at least five yards before being contacted only twice. The Broncos defense entered Sunday tied for second in the league with 2.1 yards before contact per rush.
Peyton Manning completed 84.2 percent of his passes when the Chargers sent four or fewer pass rushers on Sunday, but struggled against added pressure. Manning was sacked or under duress on 21.7 percent of dropbacks when the Chargers sent extra rushers and failed to complete half of his passes against such pressure for just the second time this season.
  [+]
Von Miller has 3 sacks vs the Chargers, giving him 24.5 for his career in his 25th game. The only player with more sacks in his first 25 career games is Derrick Thomas (25).

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