Week 2 victory over Chargers changed season

By FRANK SCHWAB THE GAZETTE Updated: December 30, 2005 at 12:00 am • Published: December 30, 2005
ENGLEWOOD - San Diego Chargers quarterback Drew Brees said he doesn’t regret letting a possible victory against the Denver Broncos slip away in Week 2, but it’s tough to believe him. The Chargers led the 0-1 Broncos 14-3 at halftime Sept. 18 but lost 20-17. That second half changed the season for both teams. The Broncos and Chargers meet for the second time Saturday. “If we win that game, then we’re in a position this week where we’re playing for a divisional championship, as opposed to the Broncos being the ones that have a first-round bye and going to the playoffs and we’re not,” Brees said. Brees’ math is correct. If San Diego had beaten Denver in Week 2 and nothing else had changed, the Chargers would be 10-5, the Broncos would be 11-4 and the Chargers would win the division title with a vic- tory Saturday. But Denver is 12-3 and clinched the AFC West title last week, and San Diego is 9-6 and eliminated from playoff contention. The Week 2 win against San Diego gave Denver plenty of momentum. The Broncos won eight of their next nine games to take control of the division, something that might not have happened if they hadn’t beaten the Chargers. “I can’t imagine where we would be if we started 0-2 in the hole,” Broncos defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban said. Many Broncos agreed that the first play of the second half turned around that game. Brees stared down receiver Keenan McCardell and Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey made a break on the pass, intercepting it and returning it 25 yards for a touchdown. “You can say that helped us go in the right direction,” Bailey said. “It was the start of something good.” Denver still trailed 14-10, but a long punt return by Darrent Williams in the fourth quarter set up another touchdown. San Diego tied the score 17-17, but the Broncos drove for a game-winning field goal as time expired. Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said he didn’t think that game turned around his team’s season. San Diego fell to 0-2. “There’s too many other games that are played,” Schottenheimer said. The Broncos had been outscored 48-13 in their first six quarters of the season and the fans at Invesco Field at Mile High booed the team as it went to the locker room at halftime against San Diego. “Our fans were disappointed with us and they let us know,” safety John Lynch said. “We were disappointed, more importantly, with ourselves. It kind of lit a fire into us, and it was a defining moment for this team.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 476-4891 or fschwab@gazette.com
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