DENVER (AP) – Rookie Patrick Surtain II picked up Justin Herbert twice and returned another 70 yards to the touchdown, creating a 28-7 victory for the Denver Broncos against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
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The Broncos ’big win puts a showdown with AFC West’s management next weekend in Kansas City, where the game between Denver (6-5) and Chiefs (7-4) ended on Sunday night.
Surtain’s first abduction came in the finish line from a pass intended for tight-lipped Jared Cook in the early fourth quarter. The Broncos turned that takeaway into a touchdown when Teddy Bridgewater hit tight-lipped Eric Saubert from 9 yards to make it 21-7.
His second installment fell out of the hands of Austin Ekeler, who looked helpless as Surtain made his second abduction and ran down the Broncos on a joyous side line to push Denver into the lead 28-7.
Denver’s defense rose to a big day when an injury-filled attack temporarily lost Bridgewater’s right leg injury, left Calvin Anderson (knee) and left guard Dalton Risner (rear).
Bridgewater returned after halftime, and the Broncos ended the victory by running the ball behind the interim line and ending up 147 yards against the league’s most leaky defense.
Chargers ’first two runs in the second half consisted of two dozen games and ate for 14 minutes, 15 seconds. Both were infertile.
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Dustin Hopkins failed with his first field goal attempt at Chargers, getting 52 yards wide after an 11-game opening run that lasted 7:06.
The Broncos ate threes and the Chargers ate the rest of the time in the third quarter when Denver had the ball in just 75 seconds. But third in Broncos 23, Surtain got his first stop for Herbert.
Drew Lock replaced Bridgewater in the first half, and Derwin James Jr. took him away as he tried to match the pass with a fork to Kendall Hinton in the final minutes of the first half. This led to Herbert’s 12-yard touchdown throw to Ekeler with 31 seconds left in the second quarter, cutting off Chargers ’14-7 loss.
Cook overtook several defenders and even a teammate or two to get both feet down in a 16-yard touchdown catch that made 28-13 4:34 left. But the chargers went inexplicably for two and the passport was incomplete.
Before his injury, Bridgewater’s 11-yard rush to the right post lifted Denver to a 7-0 lead. When the Broncos began their next run, they replaced Risner with Netane Mut. Bridgewater was injured when James swept through an untouched blitz and blinded the quarterback.
It was originally considered that teammate Kyzir White got the ball back to Los Angeles, but the exchange was canceled after review. Lock led Broncos’ attack back into the field, while Bridgewater was handled on the sidelines.
Joey Bosa got a Strip sack on Lock’s second starting pass, but receiver Tim Patrick got the ball back to the first opening. The Broncos took the 14-0 lead with rookie defender Javonte Williams’ 9-yard break in the middle.
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