Broncos 34

(6-0, 3-0 away)

Chargers 23

(2-3, 1-2 home)

Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

8:30 PM ET, October 19, 2009

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA 

1 2 3 4 T
DEN 7 10 7 1034
SD 10 10 3 023

Top Performers

Passing: P. Rivers (SD) - 274 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: L. Tomlinson (SD) - 18 CAR, 70 YDS

Receiving: T. Scheffler (DEN) - 6 REC, 101 YDS, 1 TD

Royal first Bronco with punt, kickoff returns for TDs in same game as Broncos win

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Eddie Royal was running so fast that even his brown-and-white striped socks were a blur.

Royal became the first player in Broncos history to return a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the same game, leading undefeated Denver to a wild 34-23 win over the San Diego Chargers on Monday night.

Orton on in 2nd half

Denver QB Kyle Orton's second-half performance helped the Broncos beat the Chargers on Monday night.

Orton by half
1st half 2nd half
Cmp-Att 9-14 11-15
Yards 83 146
TD-Int 0-0 2-0
Pass rtg 80.4 143.3

-- ESPN Stats and Information

Royal thinks one of the Chargers got a hand on him during his 93-yard kickoff return in the first quarter. He knows no one touched him on his 71-yard punt return in the second quarter.

"Man, it was a great feeling. The guys did a great job of blocking," he said of the second return. "I've got to give them a lot of credit. They opened up the seams and it was a home run."

Royal is the 11th player in NFL history to return a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in a game.

Darren Sproles, one of the other players to have a kickoff and punt return for touchdowns in the game, had a 77-yard punt return for a San Diego score.

Fast Facts

• The Broncos improved to 6-0 for the first time since 1998, when they started 13-0 and went on to win Super Bowl XXXIII.

•  Eddie Royal became the 11th player in NFL history, and first since Devin Hester on Nov. 25, 2007, to return a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns. Royal finished with 235 combined kickoff and punt return yards, a Broncos record.

• Josh McDaniels became the fourth coach since the merger and first since Mike Martz in 2000 to start his head coaching career with six straight wins.

• Elvis Dumervil recorded two sacks, giving him an NFL-best 10 for the season. He's the first player with 10 or more sacks in a team's first six games since Michael Strahan (10½) in 2001, the same season Strahan set the NFL's single-season sack record of 22½.

• Rapid Reaction

-- ESPN Stats & Information

The three returns for TDs tied the NFL record for a game.

Royal said the Chargers have aggressive special-teams players, and the Broncos knew they had to take them out.

"You've got to believe it can happen before you do it," he said. "I've got a lot of faith in the guys in front of me, so I wasn't surprised."

Coach Josh McDaniels agreed.

"I think our guys did a great job of blocking and giving Eddie a chance to get started," McDaniels said.

"It doesn't matter who you are playing; you give up two big returns on a punt and a kickoff and it makes it tough," Chargers coach Norv Turner said.

This is the fifth time the Broncos have been 6-0, the first since going 13-0 in 1998 en route to winning their second straight Super Bowl behind John Elway. They opened a 3½-game lead in the AFC West over three-time defending division champion San Diego (2-3).

"It's going to be tough," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We have to get over this one quick or we'll find ourselves in trouble in Kansas City because it's a short week."

Denver outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil had two sacks to extend his NFL lead to 10. His second sack caused Rivers to fumble, with Vonnie Holliday recovering to set up Matt Prater's 29-yard field goal. The Broncos sacked Rivers five times, three in the fourth quarter.

The Broncos didn't get an offensive touchdown until Kyle Orton threw a 19-yard pass to tight end Tony Scheffler late in the third quarter for a 24-23 lead. Denver added a field goal by Prater and a late 5-yard touchdown catch by Brandon Stokley that was upheld on review.

"It's tough to lose when you score twice on special teams," Orton said.

After the Chargers were forced to settle for a field goal following a sensational drive late in the first quarter, Royal took the kickoff at the 7, found a big hole at about the 35, cut inside of kicker Nate Kaeding at the 50 and raced down the left sideline to give the Broncos a 7-3 lead.

In the second quarter, Royal fielded Mike Scifres' punt on the bounce at the 29, worked his way inside, then outraced the coverage to the outside to give Denver a 17-10 lead.

Royal's electrifying returns at first silenced Qualcomm Stadium, then had Chargers fans booing.

Sproles got in on the action when he returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown for a 20-17 lead that held up at halftime. Sproles caught Brett Kern's punt, ran up the left sideline, got a nice block at about the 50, cut inside and was gone.

On Nov. 11, 2007, Sproles returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns in a 23-21 win against Indianapolis.

The Chargers ran 22 plays to only six for the Broncos in the first quarter, in what seemed more like fast-break basketball than football.

Rivers, in fact, was about to be dragged down by Dumervil when he threw a two-handed chest pass to LaDainian Tomlinson for a 21-yard gain on San Diego's second drive.

It was one of four passes by Rivers for at least 13 yards on the drive, which started at the San Diego 6-yard line.

The drive stalled, though, leading to some sideline drama involving Tomlinson.

Tomlinson wasn't on the field on third-and-goal from the 2, when Sproles was stuffed for no gain. Coach Norv Turner had a chagrined look on his face as the Chargers had to settle for Kaeding's 20-yard field goal.

Tomlinson walked down the sideline toward the bench and flipped his helmet. When he and Turner spoke a few minutes later, L.T. didn't appear to be looking at the coach.

Rivers threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson with 6 seconds left in the first quarter for a 10-7 lead.

Game notes

The Broncos have outscored their opponents 76-10 in the second half and overtime this season. ... Denver held San Diego to 104 yards of offense in the second half. ... San Diego injuries were LBs Kevin Burnett and Larry English (ankles) and RG Louis Vasquez (knee). For Denver, DL Ronald Fields (hamstring), CB Jack Williams (shoulder) and LB Mario Haggan (knee).

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1920
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays6359
Total Yards328311
Yards per play5.25.3
Total Drives1211
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-41-2
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs21

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

sdFG4:53Nate Kaeding 20 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 92 yds, 5:58
denTD4:51Eddie Royal 93 Yard Kickoff Return (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 93 yds, 0:00
sdTD0:11Vincent Jackson 3 Yard Pass From Philip Rivers (Nate Kaeding Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 74 yds, 4:33
denFG7:59Matt Prater 34 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 13 plays, 62 yds, 7:11
denTD6:11Eddie Royal 71 Yard Punt Return (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, -7 yds, 2:02
sdFG2:22Nate Kaeding 44 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 45 yds, 3:34
sdTD1:20Darren Sproles 77 Yard Punt Return (Nate Kaeding Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 6 yds, 1:16
sdFG8:02Nate Kaeding 50 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 9 plays, 48 yds, 4:37
denTD3:48Tony Scheffler 19 Yard Pass From Kyle Orton (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 77 yds, 4:14
denFG13:08Matt Prater 29 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 10 plays, 36 yds, 3:38
denTD3:01Brandon Stokley 5 Yard Pass From Kyle Orton (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 62 yds, 2:45