Phillip Lindsay shines as Broncos defeat Chargers

Despite going into the game as seven-point underdogs, the Denver Broncos left Los Angeles with a rare road win after a 34-yard walk-off field goal from Brandon McManus made the score 23-22.

The Broncos move to 4-6 on the season and return to Denver for Thanksgiving and a Sunday date with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who also put together a stunning comeback win to defeat Jacksonville in week 11.

Broncos Europe TV’s Michael McQuaid and Colum Cronin, editor Ben Corcoft, and columnist Kade Rucker give their thoughts in our latest roundtable.

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What does this win mean?

ColumWhile the playoffs remain unlikely the team showed grit and determination to overcome a number of terrible refereeing decisions and some ugly play calls.  

A game that highlighted what the team is capable of despite the inadequacies of the coaching staff.

Ben: Enjoy the win for what it is, but let’s not get too carried away. The Chargers did enough to win that game had it not been for a Vance Joseph-esque game management balls up at the end of the game.

In recent years, we have been used to the Broncos defense holding quarterbacks to less than 300 yards. To allow a quarterback 400 yards means there are still plenty of problems that need resolved, as much as Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will receive praise for their efforts.

It does show that the players still have some fight in them. Some are still playing for contracts, whether with the Broncos or another team.

Kade: It means the Broncos have the talent and ability to overcome poor coaching and officiating. The players showed that they still believe in themselves and each other.

Case Keenum wasn’t sacked once against the Chargers — despite an offensive interior missing Ron Leary, Matt Paradis, and Max Garcia — and hasn’t thrown a pick in two straight games, although he did have an errant throw negated by a defensive penalty.

Michael: This win means an awful lot, not just to the Broncos players, but the fans. It’s the first win in a month; a lot of us have forgotten what it means to win a game.

The win also means the Broncos are one game off the AFC Wildcard. With the next few games now vital, one cannot write off this team…yet. 

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Where did the Broncos win it?

Michael: The Broncos defense turned up, but more so than usual. Von Miller finished the game with a sack but, more importantly, he created an interception, almost scoring with the resulting run. He had a stellar game.

Also, Bradley Chubb was very impressive as well, getting a sack in the game.

The defense won the game for the Broncos, limiting Melvin Gordon and Philip Rivers throughout the game.

If it wasn’t for the effort, LA would have pulled away in the third quarter.

Colum: Von Miller, Phillip Lindsay, and the offensive line were the biggest contributors to the win.

There were understandably huge concerns about the line’s ability to protect Keenum against what had been an impressive Chargers pass rush, but they looked like starters and not a ragtag bunch of replacements. 

Ben: Ultimately, it came from a Ken Whisenhunt-Philip Rivers brain fart when the Chargers were leading 22-20 with two minutes left on the clock. All they had to do was get the clock moving. A run play, even a sack would have done the job. But, no, Rivers threw an incompletion giving the Broncos time for an epic comeback.

Sure, Case Keenum was money on that drive. Even Vance Joseph couldn’t find a way to screw it up before Brandon McManus twice nailed a 34-yard field goal — the first attempt was iced.

As much as Von Miller and Bradley Chubb came to play in LA, and Phillip Lindsay increasingly looked the part of an accomplished running back in the NFL, it was ultimately the Chargers’ ineptitude — the likes of which we’re used to seeing from Joseph — that helped the Broncos get over the line.

Kade: The Broncos won this game by making plays when they counted most. The offense was mostly ineffective throughout the game but was able to make just enough plays when they needed to.

The defense bent all game but had big turnovers and held strong in the last few minutes to give the offense a chance.

What most pleased or concerned you?

Kade:Most concerning was the officiating, but that probably doesn’t count here.

It’s concerning how many times the secondary seemed to be out of place on big plays. Even Chris Harris Jr misread a route that allowed for a touchdown.

Old man Antonio Gates looked five years younger beating multiple Broncos players on the day as he hauled in five catches for 80 yards and a touchdown.

Most pleasing was seeing Case Keenum go 5/5 on the final drive of the game and overcoming a very questionable offensive pass interference call that could have been a drive killer.

He showed poise in the pocket and was accurate on downfield throws to get the Broncos into field goal range.

Colum: Going for it on 4th and 1 was idiotic and killed the momentum that we had from Phillip Lindsay’s phenomenal TD run and CHJ’s interception.

Putting even three points on the board at that point could have broken the Chargers.

The final drive for the game-winning field goal; the Broncos have thrown away games all too frequently this season but with their backs against the wall they instead found a way to win against the Chargers.

Michael: The grit the offense had going into the final section of the game. No, they did not have a great game on the whole, especially Case Keenum and Emmanuel Sanders. However, they found that extra bit of gas towards the end of the fourth quarter and got the ball down to the marker for Brandon McManus.

Keenum proved a lot of people wrong with that final drive — including myself — so fair play to him.

After all of the negativity over the previous few weeks, it was great to finally see something go right for this team.

Who was the game MVP?

Kade: Brandon McManus. He had one job and he did it perfectly. He has had some struggles this season and the Chargers attempted to freeze him on his game-winning attempt. He didn’t let any of that get to him as he drilled the 34-yarder to send Philip Rivers home crying!

Michael: Phillip Lindsay, without a doubt. He rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns. This was the first time he scored more than one touchdown in his NFL career.

His rushing was superb and a joy to watch. What really shines through is Lindsay’s confidence in his ability.

The former Colorado Buff is almost certainly a contender for NFL offensive rookie of the year for the 2018 season, not too bad for a guy who went undrafted.

Next week’s game in Denver against the Steelers will be an opportunity to increase his portfolio even further.

Ben: Von Miller had a sack and arguably a game-changing interception, but not a lot else on the day is a knock on him.

Phillip Lindsay’s 106 total yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns were huge over the course of the contest. When your quarterback isn’t throwing touchdowns, the running backs need to get the job done and Lindsay more than delivered.

Colum: To the tune of The Cure’s ‘Friday I’m in Love’

“I don’t care if Saquon’s blue
Ezekiel’s gray and Beastmode’s too
Gurley I don’t care about you
Phillip Lindsay, I’m in love”

WATCH: Michael from Broncos Europe TV reacts to the Broncos’ win in LA

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