Three observations from the Broncos win over the Chargers in Week 12
The Denver Broncos were able to get a big win over a division rival on Sunday. They beat the Los Angeles Chargers in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated. They won 28-13, and it felt like the Broncos were in control for most of the game.
Offensively, they were able to eat up time of possession in the first half then seal the deal late in the game. Defensively, the Broncos played great football and frustrated Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert – who is one of the best young quarterbacks in the game.
After the game, Broncos head coach Vic Fangio commented on how his team overcomes adversity.
“We seem to bring the adversity on us. Even at the end of the half today we brought that on ourselves, and we just keep overcoming it. Hopefully, we keep playing meaningful games here moving forward. We’ve got six left—prior to this we would have said five—and a lot of big games. We’re excited to be on the hunt. This is a resilient group,” Fangio said.
Here are the top-three observations from the Broncos-Chargers game.
Establish the Run
There is no doubt the Broncos wanted to control the clock, and they did just that early against the Chargers. The time of possession leaned heavily in their favor after the first quarter, and at halftime they had the ball for more than 18 minutes, while the Chargers only had the ball for less than 12 minutes.
The Broncos were able to eat up the clock because they were committed to running the football. It doesn’t happen every week, but it should. Denver’s best chance at winning on a weekly basis begins with the success of their rushing attack.
As a team, the Broncos rushed 33 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Melvin Gordon ran the ball well, leading the team in rushing. Javonte Williams provided his normal spark as a reserve back who wins with power and determination. Even quarterback Teddy Bridgewater chipped in with a couple of runs and a rushing touchdown to open the scoring on the day.
Williams believes in establishing the run.
“Yeah, definitely. I feel like establishing the run first is definitely something to help this team. I feel like once we establish the run, they kind of start stacking the box, and that gets ‘Court’ (Courtland Sutton), (Jerry) Jeudy, Tim (Patrick), players like that, more space to get open. It also helped Teddy (Bridgewater) with play action and stuff like that, so I feel like establishing the run first and then play action passes really helps us win games,” Williams said.
Teddy Tough it Out
There is no doubt that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is tough. This game seemed to get out of the Broncos control for just a little bit at the end of the first half when Bridgewater was hurt, and backup Drew Lock came into the game.
In addition to throwing bad passes, Lock threw one of the most foolish interceptions you’ve seen – leading to the Chargers first touchdown and the game becoming a one-score contest. As the team went into the locker room for halftime, Bridgewater’s return from his shin injury was questionable.
Bridgewater did return to the lineup, and it was a good thing since the Broncos only had three total possessions in the second half. However, the first possession of the third quarter was a three-and-out, putting Bridgewater’s injury into further question from the fan base.
The next drive was a long scoring drive, highlighted by a touchdown pass from Bridgewater to tight end Eric Saubert. The Broncos don’t make that drive if Bridgewater isn’t leading the charge. The final drive of the game for the Broncos ran out the clock. Again, all possible because Bridgewater was able to tough it out.
Fangio was succinct about his thoughts on Bridgewater’s toughness.
“Teddy (Bridgewater) is tough. This is unquestioned when you talk about him and I didn’t question it in the big picture. He’s our quarterback. It’s as simple as that,” Fangio said.
Patrick Surtain was the team’s first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, yet there were some in the fan base who bemoaned the pick because the Broncos didn’t take a quarterback like Justin Fields or Mac Jones. As the regular season has gone on, others have complained about the Surtain pick because of the superstar play of linebacker Micah Parsons.
Surtain quieted the doubters on Sunday with his play against the Chargers. In fact, he got a game ball for his performance after the game – and for good reason.
The rookie cornerback was the star of the day with two interceptions of Herbert, including one he returned for the first touchdown of his pro career. ESPN Stats & Info tweeted after the game that his father, Patrick Surtain Sr., scored the final touchdown of his career with a pick-six at Mile High Stadium and Surtain II scored his first touchdown on the same field.
This type of performance certainly won’t be the last of Surtain’s Broncos career. In fact, he’s been trending in the right direction all season long and proving doubters wrong all the way.
Fangio was immediately asked about the rookie’s performance after the game.
“First off, Pat (Surtain II) has great hands and great ball anticipation, and both of them came in handy right there. Those are big plays. The first one probably saves the three points. They probably would kick a field goal there, although they could’ve went for it on fourth down. The next one, they’re in field goal range again, and it becomes seven points for us. Those are two big swings in the game and big, big plays,” Fangio said.