Jan 12, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno (27) runs the ball in the second quarter against the San Diego Chargers during the 2013 AFC divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos lead the San Diego Chargers 14-0 at halftime in the AFC Divisional Round Game

Jan 12, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) celebrates a first quarter touchdown against the San Diego Chargers during the 2013 AFC divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos won the toss and deferred as the Chargers would receive. On their first possession, Denver’s Jeremy Mincey would get a hold of quarterback Phillip Rivers for a sack, setting up the Chargers for a long 3rd-and-17. The Chargers would run a draw play to Danny Woodhead who would end up getting his facemask pulled by defensive end Malik Jackson, setting up an automatic first-down. Denver would get another sack from former Charger Shaun Phillips as San Diego faced another 3rd-and-16. This time Rivers pass would go through the hands of Ronnie Brown forcing a punt.

The Denver Broncos first drive was impressive to say the least. Peyton Manning would face a 3rd-and-9 right away and completed the pass to tight-end Julius Thomas for a 16-yard gain. Manning would spread the wealth early as he completed another first-down pass, this time to Andre Caldwell for 15-yards. Manning would almost get picked off by Chargers defensive back Shareece Wright as he looked for Wes Welker who was double-covered. Montee Ball was a key player early for the Broncos, pounding the rock for two consecutive first-downs. Manning would find Demaryius Thomas on a 3-yard comeback route to put the Broncos up 7-0 early on a 14-play, 86-yard drive in 7:01. Manning was 6-of-8 for 64 yards, including the touchdown pass.

Denver’s defense came to play and the crowd noise bothered the Chargers. Phillip Rivers was in the shot-gun and his center failed to get the ball off in time which resulted in a delay-of-game, setting up the Chargers for another third-and-long. Rivers pass to rookie wide-out Keenan Allen would be incomplete setting up another Chargers punt. On Denver’s next possession, tight-end Julius Thomas looked to have the first-down but the ball would be popped out on a bang-bang hit. The refs would take a look at it and the play would stand as a fumble and recovered by San Diego.

Ryan Mathews who was questionable for the game with foot and ankle issues made a nice run after he appeared to be bottled up for a first-down run. San Diego would be in field-goal range for kicker Nick Novak as he attempted one from 53-yards out. Novak would slip as he approached the ball and his kick would just go slightly to the left as Denver got the ball back up 7-0. Manning was a master at drawing San Diego off-sides and he did so twice, collecting an extra ten yards. Manning would find slot-receiver Wes Welker for the 3-yard touchdown pass as Denver took a 14-0 lead.

The San Diego Chargers found themselves in another hole as they faced another 3rd-and-6 and Rivers pass would be broken up by Denver’s corner Dominique Rogers-Cromartie forcing another punt. Bronco’s return man Eric Decker looked to have a punt return for a touchdown but tripped on his own, but set the Broncos up in good field position at the 30-yard line. On a 3rd-and-1, Manning would get the Chargers to bite on yet another snap-count setting up the first-down. Knowshon Moreno‘s nine-yard rush set-up Denver for the 2nd-and-1 and the running back would get it again, resulting in the first-down. Denver would use their first time-out of the half with :40 seconds left in the half at San Diego’s 4-yard-line. On 3rd-and-Goal, Denver would spread four-wide as Manning’s pass to Eric Decker went off of his chest and deflected to Donald Butler for the interception. That would be Manning’s first pick in the red-zone this season as he had 39 touchdowns and 0 interceptions previously. The Chargers would take a knee for the remaining 30 seconds to take the game into the half.

Tags: Denver Broncos Playoffs

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