Chargers thrilled to be in playoff hunt, need help
Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) is tackled by San Diego Chargers linebacker Bront Bird (97) during the second half at Qualcomm Stadium. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Photo)
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The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - INSIDE SLANT
In three letters, Thursday night's San Diego Chargers win in Denver is easy to explain: W-O-W.
"Not a lot of people outside our locker room gave us a chance," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. "And if I was outside it, I wouldn't either."
But Rivers was in the thick of everything Chargers in their epic upset of the Broncos, 27-20, which has given the Bolts and jolt.
The Chargers were about a ten-point underdog.. A season that had been up-and-down was soon to be down-and-out as loss No. 8 would have placed the nail in the team's postseason coffin.
Instead the Chargers hogged the ball, didn't let Denver quarterback Peyton Manning do his thing and produced one of the more unexpected victories in recent memory.
"It was a team win," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said.
McCoy, the Broncos' former offensive coordinator, was content to keep the ball in running back Ryan Mathews' gut. Not only did Mathews string together another 100-yard game, but it kept Manning's mitts off the football.
But the Chargers were running on momentum as well. They had punked Manning's brother, Eli, and the Giants, in the previous game. And in a 28-20 loss to Denver earlier in the year, the Chargers didn't gain the win, but the confidence that they could hang with these Broncos.
"Hey, let's go play and see what happens," Rivers said of the team's mindset before the game.
They did more than play. They dominated the Broncos on both side of the ball and now have a weekend ahead of cheering against the Ravens and Dolphins the teams ahead of them for the AFC's final wild-card spot.
Wild? That would be the Chargers breaking the Broncos' 13-0 game home winning streak.
Wild? That would be handing Peyton Manning his first loss by an AFC West for, snapping that 10-game run.
Wild card? That would be what the Chargers are still chasing.
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - NOTES, QUOTES
Running back Ryan Mathews went over the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his career. He had 127 yards and a score on 29 carries.
"He is running the football downhill," coach Mike McCoy said. Mathews, Adrian Peterson (Vikings) and LeSean McCoy (Eagles) are the only backs this season with five, 100-yard games this season.