DENVER – Peyton Manning wanted more rest instead of having to deal with a short week between games.
He got plenty Thursday night thanks to Philip Rivers and a San Diego defense that slowed down Manning and handed the Broncos an unexpected and harmful loss.
Rivers threw two touchdown passes to Keenan Allen and kept the Chargers offense on the field for nearly 39 minutes in a 27-20 stunner over the Broncos, whose road to the AFC West title and top seeding in the conference got a startling jolt.
Disorganized on defense and never able to crank things up on offense, the Broncos gained 13 yards on the 13 plays they ran after taking a 10-3 lead late in the first quarter. That covered four fruitless drives during which they went three-and-out three times and picked up a total of one first down.
“The longer you keep the ball and the less he has it, the better off you’re going to be,” said Chargers coach Mike McCoy, Manning’s former offensive coordinator.
Rivers finished 12 for 20 for 166 yards in improving to 28-6 in December. Ryan Matthews matched his season high with 127 yards on 29 carries.
After Denver’s long dry spell on offense, San Diego (7-7) led 24-10, and though the Broncos (11-3) had overcome double-digit deficits four times this season to win, it wasn’t happening this time.
Denver’s three losses are equal with New England and Kansas City. Denver owns the tiebreaker against the Chiefs but not against the Patriots.
Their next two games are against Houston and Oakland – combined record 6-20 – but after a home loss to another losing team, suddenly anything seems possible.
Four stabbed in lot
Four people were stabbed in the parking lot at Sports Authority Stadium after the Chargers-Broncos game.
The Denver Police Department says on its Twitter page one person is in critical condition.
Police say that officers have “parties” in custody and are not currently looking for other suspects.