Final

Chargers 17

(0-2, 0-1 away)

Broncos 20

(1-1, 1-0 home)

4:15 PM ET, September 18, 2005

 

1 2 3 4 T
SD 0 14 0 317
DEN 3 0 7 1020

Top Performers

Passing: J. Plummer (DEN) - 248 YDS, 1 INT

Rushing: L. Tomlinson (SD) - 19 CAR, 52 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: R. Smith (DEN) - 8 REC, 83 YDS

Broncos, down 14-3, rally to beat Chargers

DENVER (AP) -- The debate around Denver will be sweet, mainly because the Broncos won.

It was over when ...
the Chargers, on their only long drive of the second half, failed to convert a third-and-9 after a Broncos interception was overturned. The Chargers settled for a game-tying field goal; the Broncos, momentum intact, then drove 57 yards in 12 plays for the winning field goal.
Game ball goes to ...
Ron Dayne gained all 44 of his yards on the Broncos' game-winning scoring drive. After sitting out last week, he made the most of a golden opportunity.
ESPN's take ...
Eric Allen Some 0-2 starts aren't that bad and Chargers are one of them. Don't get me wrong, I believe the Chargers have some issues that they need to worked out. They need to get LaDainian Tomlinson the ball more and have to get more fluidity passing the ball. The Chargers are now going to start hearing the chirping that hits all teams when they start the season 0-2 after a great season the year before.
-- Eric Allen

Was Ron Dayne the biggest star of Denver's come-from-behind 20-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday?

Or does Champ Bailey deserve the credit for salvaging Denver from a debacle of a first half that had Broncos fans booing?

Dayne came off the bench and ran six times for 38 yards in the drive that set up Jason Elam's game-winning 41-yard field goal with 5 seconds left.

Bailey, meanwhile, opened the third quarter with a 25-yard interception return for a score that started the rally, cutting Denver's 11-point halftime deficit to 14-10.

"Champ Bailey won the game. Let's call it like it is," defensive end Trevor Pryce said. "It shows how one play can make such a big difference."

Sparked by that play, the Broncos allowed San Diego's offense only 41 yards in the second half, thus avoiding an 0-2 start that would have put them, as Pryce put it, "so far behind the 8-ball, we would've been behind the pool table."

Dayne, meanwhile, was a surprise star -- coming off the bench after spending the first game on the inactive list and most of this one watching Mike Anderson run.

On the winning drive, Dayne ran for 13, 8, 3, 3 and 1 yards. Then, on fourth-and-1 from the San Diego 33, he took a pitch around left end for 10 to set up Elam's kick.

"It was a no-brainer to me, and our confidence level was there," coach Mike Shanahan said of the fourth-down gamble. "There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to go for it."

Asked how many times he was given the chance to come through big in his five disappointing seasons with the Giants, the 1999 Heisman Trophy winner paused for a moment.

"Probably never," Dayne said.

While the Broncos celebrated a win, the Chargers fell to 0-2 and lost for the 10th time in their last 11 games in Denver. This one came on the heels of a tough 28-24 loss last week to the Cowboys.

"We have to finish games better," coach Marty Schottenheimer said.

The loss spoiled a record-setting day for LaDainian Tomlinson, who ran for both San Diego scores in the second quarter.

The first gave Tomlinson the NFL record with a rushing touchdown in 14 straight games. The second gave the Chargers a 14-3 lead and a few minutes later, the Broncos headed into halftime being showered by boos.

"They made some great adjustments in the second half," Tomlinson said. "We obviously didn't do a good enough job in finishing."

After Bailey's pick, defense and special teams kept the Broncos in great field position through the third quarter, but the offense struggled and Elam missed a pair of 53-yard field-goal attempts.

Midway in the fourth quarter, Broncos rookie Darrent Williams burst through untouched on a punt return for what looked like a touchdown. But the Broncos were penalized for too many men on the field, the result of players running off the sideline to celebrate before Williams reached the end zone.

"I've paid enough money to the National Football League without getting into that," Shanahan said of the call. "I don't want to be fined anymore."

The Broncos staved off major embarrassment by scoring on that drive to go ahead 17-14 and the Chargers answered with a field goal -- their only decent drive of the second half -- that tied the score and set things up for Dayne.

He was viewed as a longshot to make the roster, almost an afterthought in a training camp that included Maurice Clarett and Jerry Rice. And even when Dayne made the team, questions persisted when Shanahan made him inactive for Denver's 34-10 loss to Miami on opening day.

On Sunday, though, he was suited up and did some damage after spending most of the game watching Anderson -- who came back after hurting his ribs last week -- get held to 49 yards on 15 carries.

"I was just happy to get the opportunity to play, and to help my team win," Dayne said.

Bailey felt the same way. He dislocated his shoulder last week, but came back and led a defense that held Drew Brees to 175 yards and Tomlinson to 52 yards rushing and no receptions.

"We've got a great defense, a great front-seven," Bailey said. "There's no way we shouldn't play the way we did in the second half every week."

Game notes


San Diego TE Antonio Gates returned from his suspension and caught six passes for 80 yards. ... Denver DE Courtney Brown made his debut after missing the preseason and Week 1 with an elbow injury and had a sack and a fumble recovery.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
SD
DEN
1st Downs1521
Passing 1st downs
1013
Rushing 1st downs
47
1st downs from penalties
11
3rd down efficiency
4-126-16
4th down efficiency
0-01-1
Total Plays5166
Total Yards213331
Yards per play4.25.0
Total Drives1013
Passing134233
Comp-Att
15-2323-37
Yards per pass
5.05.8
Interceptions thrown
11
Sacks-Yards Lost
4-413-15
Rushing7998
Rushing Attempts
2426
Yards per rush
3.33.8
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-20-3
Penalties7-425-45
Turnovers22
Fumbles lost
11
Interceptions thrown
11
Defensive / Special Teams TDs01
Possession26:5533:05

Passing Leaders

SDC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brees15/231757.6014-41
DENC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Plummer23/372486.7013-15

Rushing Leaders

SDCARYDSAVGTDLG
Tomlinson19522.7216
Sproles11212.0012
DENCARYDSAVGTDLG
Anderson15493.308
Dayne8445.5013

Receiving Leaders

SDRECYDSAVGTDLG
Gates68013.3024
McCardell45413.5020
DENRECYDSAVGTDLG
Smith88310.4020
Lelie66210.3016

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERSDDEN
den3:03Jason Elam 37 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 28 yds, 3:03
03
SECOND QUARTERSDDEN
sdTD12:19LaDainian Tomlinson, 16 yd run (Nate Kaeding kick is good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yds, 9:21
73
sdTD4:59LaDainian Tomlinson, 4 yd run (Nate Kaeding kick is good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 68 yds, 4:36
143
THIRD QUARTERSDDEN
sdTD14:56Champ Bailey, 25 yd interception return (Jason Elam kick is good)1410
FOURTH QUARTERSDDEN
denTD8:53Kyle Johnson, 3 yd run (Jason Elam kick is good)
Drive info: 2 plays, 29 yds, 0:48
1417
sd5:25Nate Kaeding 34 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, 49 yds, 3:17
1717
den0:09Jason Elam 33 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 14 plays, 57 yds, 5:12
1720