Broncos 28

(8-1, 3-1 away)

Chargers 20

(4-5, 2-2 home)

Coverage: CBS

4:25 PM ET, November 10, 2013

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA 

1 2 3 4 T
DEN 7 14 7 028
SD 0 6 7 720

Top Performers

Passing: P. Manning (DEN) - 330 YDS, 4 TD

Rushing: K. Moreno (DEN) - 15 CAR, 65 YDS

Receiving: D. Thomas (DEN) - 7 REC, 108 YDS, 3 TD

Peyton Manning lifts Broncos by Chargers in first game without coach

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- John Fox sent text messages to several Denver Broncos on Sunday morning, wishing them good luck against the San Diego Chargers.

The Broncos will reciprocate by giving a game ball to their coach, who's at his offseason home in Charlotte, N.C., recovering from heart surgery.

With interim coach Jack Del Rio in charge, Peyton Manning threw for 330 yards and four touchdowns, three to Demaryius Thomas, as he efficiently led the Broncos to a 28-20 victory in their first game since Fox had his aortic valve replaced last Monday. Fox was released Friday and will continue his recovery at his offseason home.

"We look forward to giving it to him in person," Manning said.

Manning said he spoke with Fox by phone on Saturday before the Broncos flew to San Diego.

"I told him not to be yelling at me during the game. It's not good for his blood pressure," Manning said. "I'm not sure we'll see if he did or didn't. But he was in our thoughts. Coach Del Rio has done a good job all week keeping us updated on Coach Fox."

Fox planned to watch the game on TV there, a team spokesman said. If he watched, he probably didn't like seeing Manning hurting his right ankle when he was hit by Corey Liuget as the Broncos ran out the clock in the closing minutes. Manning stayed in the game.

Manning wouldn't be specific about his injury, but said he was "pretty sore" and that he planned to have an MRI on Monday.

Manning was hurt after completing a pass to Thomas with 1:44 left.

"We were playing aggressively to win the game right there," Del Rio said. "He made a throw, D.T. made a catch and that was the ballgame. He got up and didn't want to come off -- very proud guy -- and closed out the game for us."

Asked about playing in the Broncos' showdown with AFC West leader Kansas City (9-0) next Sunday night, Manning said: "I totally plan on it."

Liuget said it wasn't an intentional hit.

"I was trying to get to him because I knew how critical it could be to us as a defense to get to him," he said. "I was just working it and trying to be the guy. I'm not sure how I caught him but I hope he is OK. It's not anything that is going to stop him from being Peyton Manning."

Manning kept the Broncos (8-1) rolling. He threw touchdown passes of 11, 7 and 34 yards to Thomas on consecutive drives spanning the second and third quarters, staking the Broncos to a 28-6 lead.

Julius Thomas had a 74-yard catch-and-run on Denver's first drive, turning a short pass into the second-longest play by a tight end in team history.

The Broncos' scoring drives lasted 57 seconds; 2 minutes, 27 seconds, 1:25, and 3:26.

"You knew it wasn't going to be many possessions and we had to be efficient when we had the ball," Manning said.

Manning has thrown for 3,249 yards and 33 touchdowns in nine games. He completed 25 of 36 passes against the Chargers.

The Chargers (4-5) closed the gap late in the second half but couldn't catch up.

The Chargers were inside the Denver 23 three times in their first four possessions and had to settle for field goals of 26 and 40 yards by Nick Novak. Novak was wide left on a 37-yard attempt with 1:38 left before halftime.

"Three opportunities, you get six points and they score 28," said Chargers rookie coach Mike McCoy, who was Denver's offensive coordinator the past four seasons. "As you go along that is critical. When you play Peyton you have to get touchdowns. We've just got to do a better job."

Manning's big afternoon was marred only when rookie linebacker Tourek Williams hit Manning from behind and knocked the ball loose, with Donald Butler recovering at the Denver 11 midway through the third quarter. Two plays later, Philip Rivers found Danny Woodhead for a 7-yard scoring pass.

The Chargers pulled to 28-20 on Ryan Mathews' 1-yard touchdown run on third down with 10:42 to play.

A week earlier, the Chargers had the ball first-and-goal from the Washington 1 before Woodhead was stuffed and Rivers threw two incompletions before settling for a field goal to force overtime. The Redskins won 30-24.

Novak's miss late in the second quarter gave Manning enough time to move the Broncos 73 yards in nine plays, all passes, capped by his 7-yard scoring throw to Demaryius Thomas for a 21-6 lead before halftime. Manning threw only one incompletion that drive.

The Broncos got the opening kickoff of the second half and went 78 yards in eight plays, with Thomas' 34-yard TD catch giving the Broncos a 28-6 lead.

"So it's a 14-point swing -- the difference in the ballgame," Manning said.

The Chargers finished the game without left tackle King Dunlap, who sustained his third concussion this season, and center Nick Hardwick, who had a stinger. Rookie right tackle D.J. Fluker moved to left tackle.

Rivers completed 19 of 29 passes for 218 yards.

Game notes

The Broncos have scored 371 points, the most through the first nine games of a season in NFL history. The previous high of 358 was by the 1950 Los Angeles Rams. ...Broncos LB Nate Irving injured a shoulder. ... The Chargers said LT King Dunlap had a concussion, his third this season. Other Chargers injured were C Nick Hardwick (stinger), LB Larry English (bicep) and fullback Le'Ron McClain (ankle). ... It was the 300th win under Broncos owner and CEO Pat Bowlen.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs2220
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays6068
Total Yards397329
Yards per play6.64.8
Total Drives1111
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-22-4
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

denTD9:31Julius Thomas 74 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 85 yds, 0:57
sdFG15:00Nick Novak 26 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 14 plays, 72 yds, 9:20
sdFG9:09Nick Novak 40 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 5 plays, 37 yds, 1:59
denTD6:44Demaryius Thomas 11 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 80 yds, 2:27
denTD0:18Demaryius Thomas 7 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 73 yds, 1:22
denTD11:41Demaryius Thomas 34 Yard Pass From Peyton Manning (Matt Prater Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 78 yds, 3:26
sdTD8:44Danny Woodhead 7 Yard Pass From Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick is Good)
Drive info: 2 plays, 11 yds, 0:52
sdTD10:44Ryan Mathews 1 Yard Run (Nick Novak Kick is Good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 60 yds, 4:47

Research Notes

Peyton Manning: 8th season with at least 30 TD passes, second-most in NFL history. Only Brett Favre (9) has more.
Peyton Manning was 7-of-10 targeting Demaryius Thomas Sunday for 108 yards and three touchdowns. Defenses had limited Thomas well in the Broncos' previous two games.
Peyton Manning has 33 passing touchdowns through nine games this season, tying Tom Brady for the most in NFL history.
Peyton Manning's 33 passing touchdowns through nine games matches the most by any quarterback through 9 games in a single season in NFL history, tied with Tom Brady in 2007. That season Brady finished with an NFL-record 50 touchdown passes.
Peyton Manning entered Week 10 ranked in the top five in completion percentage, yards per attempt and touchdowns off play action this season. Manning was able to improve on his high play-action standard, going 9-of-9 for 187 yards and three touchdowns. - 143 of Manning's 187 yards off play action Sunday were gained after the catch, a season high for Manning and the Broncos. Manning's average pass on play action traveled 6 yards shorter Sunday (4.9 yards downfield) compared to the rest of the season.
Peyton Manning completed 9-of-9 play-action passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the NFL with 1,317 passing yards (40.5% of total) on play action this season, 431 more yards than the next closest passer (Tom Brady). * Nick Foles was 9-of-14 for 172 yards and three touchdowns using play action Sunday, and now has six touchdowns in the last two games on those plays (had three in his first 12 games).
Von Miller has been back for two games, but his impact has already been seen on the Broncos' pass defense.
Peyton Manning has completed 58.1 percent of his passes to Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker the Broncos' last two games. Manning completed 73.6 percent of his passes to the three the Broncos' first six games.

ESPN Stats & Information