Denver Broncos Hold Off San Diego Chargers in Dramatic Fourth Quarter
By Justin Henry
Cold Hard Football Facts' Dr. Death (@jrhwriting)
As Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen worked in tandem to carve up Denver's secondary in the latter half of the fourth quarter, particularly after an onside kick, Broncos fans may have been experiencing deja vu; one year ago.
Instead, a sturdy Broncos drive that swallowed up the final four minutes secured a 24-17 win for Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
After building a 17-0 lead in the third quarter, which would have been higher if not for turnovers and a missed field goal, Denver let the previously-comatose Chargers back in the game. San Diego scored all 17 of their points in the fourth quarter, though a Knowshon Moreno fourth quarter touchdown would be all the difference needed.
1. Denver Reigns in Efficiency
The Broncos and Chargers ranked second and third respectively in Cold Hard Football Facts' Offensive HOG Index for 2013. The category measures efficiency in three categories: yards per run, Negative Pass Play percentage, and third down percentage. Over the course of the Divisional Round game, Denver was the clear victor in the metric as a whole.
Denver had the edge in rushing yards per attempt, 3.91 to 3.61, though San Diego had to abandon the run with just 18 carries to Denver's 34. Manning only gave up one Negative Pass Play, a pick, in 36 dropbacks, while Rivers allowed four, all sacks, in 27 dropbacks. The Broncos converted an impressive nine of 13 third downs, to San Diego's four of 12.
2. Clock Killing
Interestingly enough, the Chargers were tops in Time of Possession for 2013, holding the ball for an average of 33:35. Denver's 30:31 average is respectable, though they merely ranked 15th across the league. The regular season marks were thrown out the window, for in this key category, the Broncos' dominance was a cornerstone of their victory.
Denver ended up possessing the ball for 35:27 of the game, a far cry from the 21:11 ownage time from their meeting with the Chargers a month ago. San Diego's third down failures, and early inability to sustain drives, led to Denver building a lead that they never lost. The Chargers late surge threatened that lead, but in many ways, it was too little, too late.
3. Scoreability, Once More
Through this slate of Division Round games, the team that marks better in Scoreability (yards gained divided by points scored) has more often been the winner. Such is the case here, as San Diego gained 259 yards and scored 17 points, for a rating of 15.24. That's a touchdown scored every 106.65 yards gained, which would be largely considered average.
Denver's final stat would be a bit of a misnomer. On 363 yards, the Broncos scored 24 points, which would give them a Scoreability rating of 15.13. However, 46 of those yards were on the final drive, when they were trying to eat time, as opposed to score again. On the 317 point-driven yards, their Scoreability improves to 13.21, or a touchdown every 92.46 yards.
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