It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
That’s the message from the Denver Broncos, who pulled one of the most memorable Monday Night Football comebacks on Monday night, overcoming a 24-0 halftime deficit to beat the Chargers on the road 35-24.
”It sure was special considering what was on the line,” said Broncos QB Peyton Manning.
All Manning did was overcome a slow start to hit on 13 of 14 for 167 yards in the second half for the Broncos (3-3) who tied the Chargers (3-3) atop the AFC West.
Overall Manning went 24-of-30 passes for 309 yards and an interception. The Broncos got a pair of defensive scores, one each from Tony Carter and Chris Harris. Eric Decker caught six balls for 98 yards and a score in the victory.
Philip Rivers went 25-for-41 trough the air for 242 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions and two fumbles for the Chargers, who dropped their second straight game and are also on a bye next week.
Antonio Gates finished with six receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns, while Ryan Mathews carried the ball 22 times for 74 yards and added four catches for 19 yards in defeat.
Rivers was picked off three times in the fourth quarter. A week earlier, the Chargers blew a 10-point lead in the third quarter in a 31-24 loss at New Orleans.
”When you lose it’s rough, especially in a game where you had a big lead and so much at stake,” Rivers said.
Manning began the comeback when he hit Demaryius Thomas on a 29-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive of the second half.
On the ensuing San Diego possession, Elvis Dumervil stripped the ball from Rivers and Carter ran 65 yards for a touchdown, holding up the ball in celebration as he approached the end zone.
Denver then sacked Rivers to force a punt and Manning capped the next drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker to pull to 24-21.
Manning’s 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley gave Denver its first lead of the game, 28-24 with 9:03 left. Stokley outleaped defensive back Marcus Gilchrist to catch the ball, and then got both feet down before tumbling out of the end zone.
That score was set up by Carter’s interception.
Harris sealed the victory with a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown with 2:05 left. It was his second pick of the game.
”It’s about playing 60 minutes. There’s no quit in this team,” Manning said.
He and Denver proved that in so many ways Monday night.