1. Plenty changes from one football season to the next, but not in Denver, where the Broncos — like last year — will go just as far as their defense takes them. The unit did the trick on Sunday, snuffing out a pair of late-fourth-quarter drives by the Chargers to preserve the win. Along the way, Denver sacked Philip Rivers four times, registered 13 quarterback hits and harassed the San Diego signal-caller with three interceptions — including a game-changing pick six. After a long touchdown march to open the game, the Chargers went eight true possessions — punt, punt, punt, pick six, punt, missed field goal, interception, interception — before Rivers engineered a pair of second-half touchdown drives. The loss aside, Rivers — 20 of 47 passing for 267 yards with two scores — deserves plenty of credit for once again keeping this short-handed offense in the game until the end.
2. With their defense creating turnovers and chaos, Denver’s offense did just enough to seal the win. Trevor Siemian directed scoring drives in all four quarters, but the Broncos certainly missed C.J. Anderson. With its starting running back sidelined, Denver struggled for just 58 yards rushing, allowing San Diego’s front seven to batter Siemian for one sack, eight quarterback hits, a crushing strip sack by Melvin Ingram and a fourth-quarter pick six. Denver finished just 5-of-15 on third down at a measly 5.1 yards per play. Rookie back Devontae Booker was bottled up for three quarters before churning out key yardage on a critical fourth-quarter touchdown drive. After rumbling for 190 yards in Week 7, though, the Broncos have work to do on the ground with four road games over their next five tilts.
3. It’s masked in the loss, but Chargers running back Melvin Gordon delivered a fine performance on Sunday with 111 yards at 4.8 yards per pop — becoming the first back in 22 games to cross the 100-yard barrier against the Broncos.
4. There was a scary moment in this game when Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was knocked down along the sideline after taking a vicious, unintentional hit from Chargers runner Melvin Gordon. The longtime coach was rushed to a local hospital, leaving linebackers aide Reggie Herring to call plays down the stretch. Phillips was released after everything “checked out OK,” the team announced. Phillips is expected to return to work on Monday.
5. A killer series of events for the Chargers: With 10:25 left in the second quarter and San Diego up 7-3, Broncos pass rusher DeMarcus Ware — who played a wonderful game — sacked Rivers to send the ball downfield. Recovered by linebacker Corey Nelson and returned for 26 yards, the ball was initially ruled a fumble before replay overruled it. Four plays later, though, Rivers could only watch as a throw to Tyrell Williams was tipped into the air and taken 49 yards to the house by cornerback Bradley Roby.
6. If you haven’t had a chance to watch rookie pass rusher Joey Bosa on GamePass, what are you doing with your days and nights? The Chargers behemoth issued another tantalizing performance against Denver, pushing back blockers and notching three quarterback hits as part of one of the AFC’s top linebacking units.