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NFL Game Recaps: Week 8





Broncos 35, Chargers 21

  • It's better to be lucky than good, but when you're lucky and good, you're very difficult to beat. That happened to be the case for the Broncos in this Thursday night victory.

    There were three key plays that could've gone either way that pretty much decided the outcome of this game:

    1. The Broncos returned a kickoff at the end of the first half with the game tied at seven. The player fumbled the ball, and the Chargers recovered. Or so it seemed. Though both CBS announcers and ex-ref Mike Carey believed the ball to be coming loose prior to the elbow being down, official Terry McAulay inexplicably overturned the ruling. Granted, it was close, but the play should've stood either way because there wasn't enough evidence to overturn it. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were both taken aback by the decision. Had San Diego maintained possession, it would've been set up just outside of the red zone with a chance to take the lead. Instead, the Broncos took over and marched down the field, taking a lead that they never relinquished. It was a crushing, 10- or 14-point swing for the Chargers.

    2. The stat box says Peyton Manning was never intercepted, but he was. Eric Weddle impressively snatched the ball in the end zone with one hand, thwarting a Denver drive. However, a flag came out after the pick, and McAulay announced that "prior to the pass" there was holding. Once again, Nantz, Simms and Carey were all miffed by the call. There was barely any contact, and it was within five yards anyway, so there shouldn't have been any sort of infraction. And if the penalty occurred "prior to the pass," why was the flag thrown after the actual interception? Once again, the Broncos took advantage, scoring a touchdown.

    3. Emmanuel Sanders, who had a brilliant game, committed his sole blunder when he fumbled in his own territory. The Chargers appeared to have recovered the ball, but it bounced around and fell into Wes Welker's arms. That was a chance for San Diego to get back into the game, down 14 at that point, but the Broncos maintained possession, bled the clock and pulled through with the spread-covering victory.

  • The Broncos were very lucky in this game, but they didn't need all of that great fortune to prevail. They were the better team on the field, outgaining San Diego by 119 net yards and averaging 1.2 more yards per play. The Chargers were competitive for a while, but Denver ultimately ran away with this victory in the second half.

    San Diego simply couldn't do anything about Peyton Manning. The NFL's career touchdown record-holder was an unstoppable force, going 25-of-35 for 286 yards and three touchdowns. He had that one interception that should've stood, but was otherwise flawless. He simply took advantage of a secondary that was missing its top two cornerbacks. Brandon Flowers was out with a concussion, while Jason Verrett was in the lineup to begin the contest, but didn't last the entire 60 minutes, as he aggravated his shoulder injury.

  • All three of Manning's scores went to Sanders, who reeled in all nine of his targets for 120 yards. Demaryius Thomas also had a big game with eight grabs for 105 yards, but he dropped a pass.

  • Two of Denver's prominent play-makers barely did anything. Julius Thomas snatched just two passes for 23 yards, while Welker (2 catches, 5 yards) made his sole positive contribution by recovering Sanders' fumble.

  • It was a rough night for Ronnie Hillman fantasy owners. I would know because I am one. Hillman gained 109 yards on just 20 carries and also hauled in three balls for 29 receiving yards. The problem is that Hillman was vultured twice by Juwan Thompson (7-24). Hillman also had a touchdown run called back an Orlando Franklin hold.

  • As for the Chargers, they didn't have nearly as much success running. It seemed like there was at least one Bronco around to smother Branden Oliver whenever the undrafted rookie touched the ball. Oliver managed 36 yards on 13 carries, though 23 of those yards came on the final play of the game when the Broncos were playing prevent. Oliver at least helped his PPR owners with a seven-catch, 27-yard receiving performance, but again, a large gain (22 yards) came late.

  • Philip Rivers had a mostly positive performance. Going 30-of-41 for 252 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, Rivers made some brilliant passes, including a 30-yard connection to Antonio Gates on a third-and-20 in the second quarter. One of the picks wasn't his fault, as his receiver slipped. However, the second interception was a back-breaker, as Rivers carelessly flung the ball into double coverage late in the game. It was a desperation heave, but Rivers still had time; there were five minutes remaining in regulation, and he had possession around midfield. He didn't have to hurry like that at all. The pick effectively ended the game, as San Diego's defense couldn't get Denver's offense off the field.

  • Two of Rivers' scores went to Gates (5-54), while the other was thrown to Keenan Allen, who had a big game. Allen snatched nine of the 13 targets thrown to him for 73 yards and a touchdown. Malcom Floyd, meanwhile, had four grabs for 58 yards. He was knocked out with an arm injury after making an awesome catch, but was able to return to action.





    Lions XX, Falcons XX




  • Seahawks XX, Panthers XX




  • Bengals XX, Ravens XX









  • Dolphins XX, Jaguars XX




  • Chiefs XX, Rams XX




  • Patriots XX, Bears XX







  • Jets XX, Bills XX




  • Buccaneers XX, Vikings XX




  • Texans XX, Titans XX






  • Eagles XX, Cardinals XX




  • Browns XX, Raiders XX






  • Colts XX, Steelers XX




  • Packers XX, Saints XX




  • Cowboys XX, Redskins XX




  • For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.



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