NFL Wire News

Broncos 22, Chargers 10


SAN DIEGO — The Denver Broncos clinched their fourth consecutive AFC West title by beating the San Diego Chargers 22-10 Sunday.

Connor Barth kicked five field goals as the Broncos earned their fourth win in a row.

Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, who was battling flu-like symptoms, finished 14 of 20 for 233 yards. Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas made six catches for 123 yards, and he grabbed Manning’s lone touchdown pass.

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers completed 24 of 41 passes for 232 yards with one touchdown pass and two interceptions.

Denver (10-4) completed a season sweep of San Diego, topping the division rival for the third time in the past four meetings.

The Chargers’ hopes of making the playoffs for the second straight year took a blow. San Diego (8-6) entered the game in position for AFC’s No. 6 seed and final playoff berth.

San Diego pulled within 16-10 with 10 minutes remaining on tight end Antonio Gates’ 5-yard touchdown catch on a Rivers pass. Gates joined the New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski as the only tight ends in NFL history to have 10 touchdown receptions in four seasons.

Manning started a new touchdown streak when he hit Thomas on a 28-yard scoring strike for a 16-3 lead in the closing seconds of the third quarter. Manning had his 51-game string of games with a touchdown pass broken last week in a win over the Buffalo Bills.

Before Manning found Thomas, San Diego placekicker Nick Novak missed on a 37-yard field-goal attempt that bounced off the left upright. In the first half, Novak had a 46-yard field-goal try blocked by defensive end Derek Wolfe.

The Chargers, who were blanked in the final half of their last game, finally got on the scoreboard late the first half Sunday after Denver took a 9-0 lead with three field goals.

San Diego’s Eddie Royal returned a punt 58 yards, and the Chargers cashed in the opportunity a 30-yard Novak field goal, pulling within 9-3 at halftime.

It looked as if the Broncos would score the game’s first touchdown in the closing minutes of the first half.

Denver running back C.J. Anderson went in from the 1-yard line for the touchdown, but the call was reversed upon review. For the third time in the red zone, the Broncos managed but only a field goal for a 9-0 advantage.

NOTES: Chargers RB Ryan Mathews didn’t play due to an ankle injury. … San Diego TE Ladarius Green (ankle, concussion) remained out. … Chargers P Mike Scifres (shoulder) has an outside chance of returning this season. … The Broncos placed RB Montee Ball (groin) and S Quinton Carter (knee) on injured reserve. … Denver LB Danny Trevathan was activated to the roster from reserve/injured, designated for return.

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