A 37-yard pass interference penalty against Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward allowed Brandon McManus to kick a tie-breaking 53-yard field goal as time expired to give the Denver Broncos a 23-20 victory Sunday in Denver.
The Chargers re-tied the score 14 seconds earlier on Michael Badgley’s 46-yard field goal, four plays after Philip Rivers completed a 38-yard pass to Mike Williams on a fourth-and-11 play for a first down on Denver’s 38-yard line after back-to-back false start penalties against offensive linemen.
With the ball on their own 28-yard line with eight seconds left, the Broncos eschewed having rookie quarterback Drew Lock kneel to send the game into overtime.
Instead, they opted for him to throw a long pass, with Hayward called for interference against Courtland Sutton at the Chargers’ 35-yard line to set up the winning field goal that handed the Chargers (4-8) their third consecutive loss, all by seven points or less.
The Chargers are 2-7 this season in games decided by seven points or less.
The Chargers rallied from a 14-point first-quarter deficit to tie the score 17-17 on Rivers’ 36-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Allen with 12 minutes, 18 seconds to play.
The Chargers had the opportunity to take the lead on their next possession, but Badgley’s 55-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright with 9:14 remaining, four plays after linebacker Denzel Perryman intercepted a pass by Lock at Denver’s 38-yard line.
Denver (4-8) regained the lead on McManus’ 52-yard field goal with 4:26 remaining, eight plays after Badgley’s miss.
The Chargers outgained the Broncos, 359 yards to 218 and led 17-13 in first downs, including a 16-6 advantage over the final three quarters, and 32:09-27:51 in time of possession.
Lock completed 18 of 28 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in his NFL debut. The second-round draft choice out of Missouri was activated from injured reserve Saturday after suffering a thumb injury in an Aug. 19 preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Brandon Allen started Denver’s three previous games in place of Joe Flacco, who was placed on injured reserve Nov. 1 because of a neck injury.
Rivers completed 20 of 29 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in front of a crowd at Empower Field at Mile High announced at 74,638.
The Broncos opened the scoring on their second possession on Lock’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Sutton, concluding a 12-play, 80-yard drive that consumed 5:55.
Denver increased its lead to 14-0 on its next possession on Lock’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Sutton, six plays after defensive end Dre’Mont Jones intercepted Rivers’ attempted screen pass at the Chargers’ 25-yard line and returned the ball seven yards.
The Chargers got their first points with 9:27 left in the first half on Badgley’s 30-yard field goal on a 14-play, 63-yard drive that was extended when Devontae Booker was penalized for roughing the kicker following Ty Long’s punt.
The Broncos regained a 14-point lead on McManus’ 31-yard field goal with 5:32 remaining in the first half, four plays after Troymaine Pope muffed the catch of a punt by Colby Wadman, with Josey Jewell recovering for Denver at the Chargers’ 21-yard line.
The Chargers first touchdown came 30 seconds before halftime when Austin Ekeler turned a short pass from Rivers into a 30-yard score, one play after Rivers’ 52-yard pass to Williams.
The touchdown reception was Ekeler’s seventh of the season, the second-most by a Chargers running back in a season.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: