By Chad Jensen
DENVER (247 SPORTS) – The Denver Broncos were expected to lose to the L.A. Chargers this week by most educated analysts. But that’s why they play the games.
The Broncos stormed back in the fourth quarter thanks to some clutch conjuring by quarterback Case Keenum to beat the Chargers 23-22. Needless to say, Chargers’ WR Keenan Allen wasn’t happy with his team’s third loss of the season.
Per ESPN’s Eric D. Williams, when asked whether the Broncos deserve credit for fighting back into this game to win it, the veteran wideout was reluctant to acquiesce.
“No, I don’t think they played well at all,” Allen said via ESPN. “We dominated the game. Turnovers, we gave them some points and that’s what happened. They suck.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what the expert psycho-analysts call ‘sour grapes’. Allen’s lack of sportsmanship and athletic character is telling, especially when you consider that the Denver hadn’t won a Divisional road game since — you guessed it — defeating the Chargers in Week 13 of the 2015 season.
Gary Kubiak went 0-3 in-Division on the road in his final year as head coach, and Vance Joseph had gone 0-4 — until Sunday. Now Joseph is 1-4 on the road in the AFC West.
For his part, Allen had a strong game against the Broncos, finishing with nine receptions on 12 targets for 89 yards and a touchdown. The Chargers threw up 479 total yards of offense to Denver’s 325 — so why the Broncos’ victory?
“Penalties. Turnovers,” Allen said. “Not making plays at the end of the game.”
The Chargers moved the ball offensively, but were penalized 14 times for minus-120 yards. All those yards were great, Philip Rivers was in the zone, but he also turned the ball over twice, the second of which was plucked out of the air by Von Miller, who’d sniffed out the screen play.
Miller’s pick led to a Broncos’ touchdown, narrowing the Chargers’ lead to five points at the bottom of the third quarter.
“That was huge,” Coach Joseph said from the podium post-game. “I can name a couple plays. The fake punt was huge. Obviously, the pick with Von, they’re going to go get three again. The pick was huge with Von. Defensively, we didn’t have our best day on third downs, but I think we had three sacks and two interceptions so that helped us play better on defense.”
Miller finished with his 100th all-time sack (including playoffs) and an interception. Throw in the ‘W’ and it was an ideal day at the office for the perennial All-Pro linebacker.
“I was just trying to win,” Miller said post-game. “That’s our motto: Somebody make a play. It doesn’t matter who it is. I read the right thing and he threw it straight to me.”
Ultimately the Broncos beat the Chargers. Keenan Allen will have to eat his heart out, knowing he’ll get another swing at Denver in the season finale in Week 17.
Still, someone in the Chargers’ PR department, or maybe even Philip Rivers, might want to pull Allen aside and give him a lesson on sportsmanship. And maturity. And football character. A bad look for a Chargers team who just got embarrassed at home by a 3-6 Broncos squad.
The Broncos don’t suck, despite their record. They’ve drawn a brutal schedule this year, with five of their games coming against teams who were on a winning streak of at least five games, including the Chargers.
Meanwhile, the Broncos will savor this win, knowing that the Football Gods don’t always smile upon a team.
“We’ve played every hot team in this league,” Coach Joseph said. “We played the Rams and they were four or five in a row. We played the Chiefs. They were six in a row. Houston was six in a row. This team was six in a row. Our team will play every week. We have to continue to improve in all areas. We do that. We’re tough. Again, it’s a small focus group. We’ll go back to work on Monday and see what happens next Sunday.”
Perhaps the fans pining for Joseph’s firing should keep that in mind too. The Broncos have fought the elite teams down to the wire, but they’re beginning to learn from past mistakes and instead of taking the wrong step in clutch moments, they’re finding the winning footing. At least this week.