AFC West: Denver rally changes divisional race
The AFC West was reshaped on Monday night when the Denver Broncos overcame a 24-0 halftime deficit and went on to beat the San Diego Chargers by the final score of 35-24. If there was any doubt why Peyton Manning returned to football after his neck surgeries, the doubt has been answered. He loves to play, play well and win. Those who doubted Denver’s decision to gamble on Manning in an attempt to change the franchise’s direction have now had their doubts erased.
After the first six weeks of the NFL season, Peyton Manning easily has provided the lasting moment in the league. The Monday night game will go down as a classic for Monday Night Football and changed the entire outlook for the AFC West race for the remaining eight games of the season.
In just 30 minutes of play, Manning was able to overcome the 24-point deficit and make him one of just a few players who at this point could be considered an MVP candidate. Manning was 13 for 13 to start the second half, three of which were caught for touchdowns. The Broncos won by 11, with their 35 unanswered second half points, but the victory meant so much more for them, the Chargers and the AFC West.
ESPN Stats stated that since the Super Bowl era, 442 teams have been in front by 24 points or more. Only three teams of the 442 have lost the lead and the game. The probability the Chargers would win, when the teams went to the locker rooms at halftime, was 98.5%.
Manning was cheered by a number of Denver fans who showed up in San Diego to cheer on their Broncos. The hope is the win will put a spark into the team that is now tied at the top of the AFC West with the Chargers at 3-3. The win was the biggest comeback in franchise history for Denver.
Brandon Stokley caught Manning’s 21-yard pass to put the Broncos ahead 28-24 and said that with Manning calling the game, your team always has a good chance to win.
Monday’s game will probably be the turning point for the AFC West, with the Broncos most likely staying on the top and the Chargers grasping for a wildcard. San Diego has the team to recover from such a dismal second half effort, so no one should write them off just yet. The Chargers have now lost two consecutive games in which they enjoyed double-digit leads starting the second half. Last week the Chargers led the New Orleans Saints by 10 points at the half and lost 31-24.
If, and if is a small word with a big meaning, the Chargers would not have blown the two leads they would be enjoying a 5-1 start and have a three game lead in the division. As it stands now, both Denver and San Diego are 3-3, Oakland is two games out at 1-4 and Kansas City is bringing up the rear at 1-5.
The Broncos head to a bye week and even though they own the toughest schedule in the NFL, its gets slightly easier following their bye. All three of Denver’s losses this season have been after they have gone down by a number of points and had unsuccessful attempts at rallying, until last night. Now Denver knows how to rally and win, thanks in part to Manning’s heroic efforts and pinpoint passes. Manning has 9 touchdowns and 984 yards in his last three games.
However, on Monday night it was not just him, but also the rest of his team that helped. Receivers made great catches, third-down conversions were made and the defense made some incredible stops in the second half.