Broncos Beat Chargers, Set Up Battle for First Place With Raiders


DENVER -- The Denver Broncos took turns picking off and pummeling Philip Rivers in a 27-19 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

But defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was taken to a hospital after getting knocked down during Brady Roby's 51-yard touchdown return in the second quarter, tempering their enthusiasm.

San Diego running back Melvin Gordon was blocked into the 69-year-old assistant, who was strapped to a backboard and carted off the field. The Broncos said Phillips was alert and had movement in his arms and legs when he arrived at the hospital via ambulance.

With linebackers coach Reggie Herring taking over Denver's defensive calls for Phillips, the Broncos (6-2) had a goal-line stand in the closing minutes and picked off Rivers twice more in the second half.

They only turned one of those takeaways into points, however, and that allowed the hard-luck Chargers (3-5) to stay in it until the end, forcing Denver to make two stands in the closing minutes.

Safety Darian Stewart's takeaway gave Denver the ball at the San Diego 10, and Devontae Booker's 3-yard TD run made it 17-7. Safety T.J. Ward's interception set up his offense at the Chargers 7. But Booker, making his first career start after C.J. Anderson (knee) went on IR, fumbled at the San Diego 2 and linebacker Jatavis Brown recovered.

The Chargers capitalized with a 98-yard touchdown drive that ended with Travis Benjamin's one-handed TD grab. Shaq Barrett blocked Josh Lambo's extra point, keeping the score 17-13.

Juwan Thompson, promoted from the practice squad Saturday, scored from the 1 to make it 24-13. But the Chargers got into the defensive act themselves when cornerback Casey Hayward returned a tipped pass from Trevor Siemian to Jordan Norwood 24 yards for a touchdown that made it 24-19.

Antonio Gates' illegal pick negated a 2-point conversion catch by Gordon, and Jared Crick deflected Rivers' do-over pass, keeping it a five-point game.

The Chargers reached the Denver 2 with three minutes remaining but threw four consecutive incompletions without handing off to Gordon, who had 111 yards on 23 carries.

San Diego's last gasp ended at midfield.

Roby, starting in place of Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib (lower back), gave Denver a 10-7 lead with a 51-yard pick-6 in the second quarter.

Rivers' pass went off receiver Tyrell Williams' hands and Roby spun around and plucked the ball out of the air. He quickly found the sideline, slipped past tackle Joe Barksdale and outraced Rivers into the end zone.

DIDN'T COUNT: Roby's pick-6 came a few minutes after DeMarcus Ware's strip-sack was overturned on review even though it appeared he had his hand on the football as Rivers was about to release it. Linebacker Corey Nelson, making his first career start in place of Brandon Marshall (hamstring), scooped up the ball and returned it to the San Diego 22. Ware was making his first start since breaking his right forearm in Week 2.

DAWDLING DENVER: A week after holding Houston to three-and-outs on its first two drives, Denver's dawdling defense again surrendered a touchdown on its first series. That makes six times in eight games the Broncos have allowed a TD on an opponent's first drive.

STREAK CONTINUES: After snapping a 10-game AFC West skid with a 21-13 win over Denver 17 days earlier, the Chargers lost for the eighth straight time on the road in the division.

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