NFL playoffs Live Report: Chargers at Broncos

Published: January 12, 2014, 11:59 am, by Paul Klee

FINAL: Broncos 24, Chargers 17.

—Breathe.

—Breathe again.

—Keep breathing.

—The Broncos will host the Patriots for a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII. The AFC championship is scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. next Sunday.

—More coverage coming later on Gazette.com.

Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 24, Chargers 17 — 1:37 left in fourth quarter

—Crowd is booing the string of injured Chargers. The crowd believes San Diego is purposefully slowing down the game.

—Peyton Manning with a pair of Hall-of-Fame throws for first downs on this drive. The lob to Julius Thomas, under heavy pressure, might have saved their season. And the heart condition of 76,000 people.

—The wind is not so bad anymore. Prater should be comfortable from 40, 45 yards out.

Back in a few.

Klee

Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 24, Chargers 17 — 3:53 left in fourth quarter

—Broncos fans don’t deserve this.

Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 17, Chargers 7 — 9:53 left in fourth quarter

—Working on Monday’s column while writing this Live Report. What I know: the Broncos have been efficient today. But — and it’s a big but — if they play this dumb against the Patriots, the Broncos are in trouble.

—That’s all we’ll say about the AFC championship for now.

—In a loss, another excellent performance by Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich today. With a limited roster, he’s getting the most out of his players.

—The Broncos have 294 yards to the Chargers’ 131. And the result is still in doubt.

Back in a few.

Klee

Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 17, Chargers 7 — 12:59 left in fourth quarter 

—Worth noting: the Patriots came back from a big deficit (to beat the Broncos) largely because DRC went down with an injury. Tom Brady went after his backup. Chris Harris has been ruled out for the rest of today’s game. And Chargers score their first touchdown. 

—Never has a 10-point lead been met with so much anxiety.

—Wait ’til there’s a turnover.

—Ramsey and Schwab have now changed their conversation to CC hockey.

—Broncos need a 7-minute scoring drive. 

Back in a few.

Klee

Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 17, Chargers 0 — End of third quarter

—The rare miss by Matt Prater. He had missed only one FG all season.

—The Chargers have life. The Chargers also haven’t scored.

—The Broncos have never enjoyed a playoff shutout, according to the record books.

—The Chargers have never looked so awful at Sports Authority Field, according to me.

—Jack Del Rio doing a bang-up job with this disheveled, beaten-up, shell-of-itself defense the past four weeks.

—Slide, Philip. Just slide. We won’t judge.

Back in a few.

Klee

BRONCOS CHARGERS     BRONCOS CHARGERS

Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 14, Chargers 0 — 9:46 left in third quarter

—The Broncos can put away the Chargers with a touchdown here.

—Just don’t let the Chargers stick around by a touchdown or closer. Can’t have another Hail Mary in here.

—David Ramsey has moved to the front row of  the press box. So now Ramsey and Schwab are  having their weekly conversation about Abilene Christian University football and Wisconsin cheese. 

—The Chargers have 20 passing yards. Philip Rivers must stink in the playoffs.

Back in a few.

Klee

BRONCOS CHARGERS

Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 14, Chargers 0 — Halftime

—So, is Eric Decker the hero or the goat? Big punt return… but tripped on the turf monster. Got open… but bobbled the touchdown that turned into an interception.

—Somehow, if Broncos lose, that interception will be used in the Manning’s Playoff Woes narrative. Even though it was an excellent throw.

—Good news: Broncos are owning the Chargers in every aspect  of the game.

—Bad news: 14-point leads in these playoffs are like 10-point leads in the NBA.

—Not many Chargers fans in the stadium today. Expected more.

—That interception hurts the Broncos because they would be up 17-0, at the least, and get the ball to start the second half. 

Back in a few.

Klee

Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 14, Chargers 0 — 6:00 left in second quarter quarter

—Broncos superhero of the day (so far): the banged-up, depleted defensive line. No Derek Wolfe. No Kevin Vickerson. And three sacks.

—Prayers for Manti Te’o. When the opposing offensive line calls for the training staff to come on the field, it’s a serious injury.

—Tom Brady and Peyton Manning might play in the AFC championship game…. and both teams might run it 80 percent of the time.

—Oddly, the Broncos are using the Chargers’ tried-and-true formula for beating… the Broncos.

—Te’o was wobbly. Can’t imagine we see him again.

—Welcome back, Wes Welker. On the run to his left, heck of a throw by Mr. MVP. 

Back in a few.

Klee

Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 7, Chargers 0 — 11:13 left in second quarter quarter 

—Bad call on the Julius Thomas fumble. No way around it. 

—Then again, Julius Thomas needs to hang onto that one. He was a power forward in college. Use the elbows.

—Malik Jackson has a chance to be great.

—If the Broncos don’t beat the Broncos, I don’t believe these Chargers can beat the Broncos.

—Shout-out to the college basketball assistant texting from a bar in Malaga, Spain. Now get us another NBA big man.

—Nick Novak was connecting from 60 yards out in warmups. Missed that one from 52.

Back in a few.

Klee

Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 7, Chargers 0 — End of first quarter

—The lead on SportsCenter, if Broncos win: Philip Rivers’ ball spike at the delay-of-the-game penalty.

—Two punts, two Eric Decker punt returns. Poor Trindon. 

—Now the Chargers have the wind at their back.

—Worth remembering: Broncos jumped on Ravens with a 7-0 lead. Then allowed Ravens to stick around.

—Peyton Manning’s numbers (with the wind): 7-for-9, 71 yards, TD. 

—CU basketball dealt a crushing blow today with the knee injury to Spencer Dinwiddie. Saw potential of an Elite Eight-type run with Dinwiddie. Does this change his mind on entering the draft?

Back in a few.

Klee

BRONCOS CHARGERS

Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 7, Chargers 0 — 2:25 left in first quarter

 —Report from the tailgate scene: apparently one of the tailgates out in the parking lots came equipped with a 5-foot bong. Oh, Colorado.

—Now this looks more like the Broncos, spreading the wealth, matriculating down the field.

—Really just wanted to write “matriculating.”

—Peyton Manning got away with a pass that sailed. Wright should’ve had the pick.

—If Montee Ball had three arms, he would be wrapping all three around the football.

—San Diego used two timeouts within the first 10 minutes of the game.

—Jake Plummer and Rod Smith are hanging out on the sideline. 

—Strong, strong running from Montee Ball. Worth remembering: the Broncos played most of this game last year with only one healthy, experienced running back. Willis McGahee and Knowshon  Moreno were both injured.

—Can’t find David Ramsey. Where’d he go?

Back in a few.

Klee 

Broncos Gameday Live Report — Broncos 0, Chargers 0 — 12:55 left in first quarter

—Broncos great Rod Smith was shown on the videoboard, shouting: “Are you ready?!?!?”

—Jake Plummer was the most recent Broncos quarterback to win a divisional playoff game.

—Kicking field goals figures to be a blooper routine. This wind is for real.

—Most important down today: Third. Only one team this season was better than the Broncos on third down: San Diego.

—The crowd, and the wind, played a role in San Diego’s first timeout.

—File this away for later: the Chargers will have the wind in the fourth quarter.

—Don’t expect you’ll see a whole lot of Trindon Holliday today, as mentioned previously in this Live Report.

Back in a few.

Klee

BRONCOS CHARGERS

Broncos Gameday Live Report — No. 6 Chargers (10-7) at No. 1 Broncos (13-3) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — Kickoff (2:40 p.m.)

—Possibility of wind gusts up to 40 mph, our trusty P.A. announcer tells us.

—After all these scoring records, after all these wild detours, after 13-3 and another AFC West title…. it seems like the Ravens game was just yesterday, doesn’t it?

—Three of the Final Four is decided: Patriots, Niners, Seahawks. I like San Francisco out of the NFC.

—This is one of those matchups where Von Miller would have made a big difference.

—No parachutists today. First time in the past one-plus seasons. Silly wind.

—On the list of worst-possible-scenarios for Peyton Manning (above, courtesy Mark Reis) today, these wind gusts rank right behind “Wake up with Chicken Pox.”

Back in a few.

Klee 

Broncos Gameday Live Report — No. 6 Chargers (10-7) at No. 1 Broncos (13-3) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — 40 minutes until kickoff (2:40 p.m.)

—Frank Schwab’s prediction: Broncos 28, Chargers 20.

—Ramsey doesn’t have a prediction. Nor does he have a seat.

—Here’s something to watch (and worry about) in this wind: Holliday returning punts. It’s really blowing the ball around up there.

—This season the only game that compares to this one — in terms of the wind — is the Patriots game. That was a howling, frigid, awful wind out of the north.

—Chargers take the field, crowd boos.

—Broncos take the field, crowd cheers.

—Strange feeling here at the stadium. Among the fans, there’s more anxiety than excitement. 

—Broncos safety Mike Adams just took a photo with a pair of young fans on the sideline. Nice, Mike.

Back in a few.

Klee

Broncos Gameday Live Report — No. 6 Chargers (10-7) at No. 1 Broncos (13-3) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — One hour until kickoff (2:40 p.m.)

—Broncos kicker Matt Prater is huddling with Britton Colquitt at midfield. They are pointing skyward, like a golfer testing the wind. Looks like a one-club wind, at least.

—Frank Schwab is here. My man is reveling in the Badgers’ basketball season so far. 

—Official prediction: Broncos 24, Chargers 23.

—And no, I don’t feel comfortable with that one. Believe this Chargers team is the worst possible matchup for the Broncos in these playoffs — AFC or NFC.

Back in a few.

Klee

Broncos Gameday Live Report — No. 6 Chargers (10-7) at No. 1 Broncos (13-3) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — One hour until kickoff (2:40 p.m.)

—Broncos need to start fast today. Allowing the Ravens to hang around, hang around, hang around was a formula for devastation.

—Chargers kicker Nick Novak is booting field goals from 52 yards…. that would be good from 65. The wind’s at his back.

—I need a haircut. Maybe I’ll get the Brady ‘cut.

—The Broncos who were on the field have returned to the locker room.

—San Francisco appears headed to Seattle for the NFC championship game.

—Mile High is roughly 20 percent full at the moment. Tailgates must be hummin’.

Back in a few.

Klee

Broncos Gameday Live Report — No. 6 Chargers (10-7) at No. 1 Broncos (13-3) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — One hour until kickoff (2:40 p.m.)

—Will this be Eric Decker’s final game as a Bronco?

—Or Knowshon Moreno?

—There’s a LaDanian Tomlinson No. 21 jersey in Section 317. He is really having a good time.

—Chargers tailback Ryan Mathews is active today. He tore up the Broncos in Week 15. But how’s that ankle?

—Ronnie Hillman, the main ballcarrier for last year’s playoff game against the Ravens, is inactive for the Broncos.

—The Gazette is fully staffed at today’s game. The incomparable photo editor Mark Reis is here, along with two of his expert photographers. Klee is joined by Scott Kaniewski and David Ramsey. Well, will be joined by Ramsey, who is on his way back from the figure skating championships.

—The Jim Saccomano Press Box is a full one today. The Jim Saccomano Press Box for Manning-Brady next week might have a standing room-only section. If there is Manning-Brady next week.

Back in a few.

Klee

Broncos Gameday Live Report — No. 6 Chargers (10-7) at No. 1 Broncos (13-3) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — 90 minutes until kickoff (2:40 p.m.)

—Chris Clark, Paris Lenon, Tony Carter, Sylvester Williams (wearing Beats) and Trindon Holliday warming up on the field. Trindon’s in shorts and a t-shirt. Worked for him last year.

—No sign of Matt Prater yet. Interested to see the effect of the wind on his kicks.

—Jake Plummer is on the videoboard, being interviewed with Chris Hall and Grey Caldwell. The Snake appears to be on parking-lot duty, with a fluorescent vest. 

—Official prediction coming in one hour.

—In postseason games, the Broncos are 2-2 against divisional opponents.

Back in a few.

Klee

Play.Brady

Broncos Gameday Live Report — No. 6 Chargers (10-7) at No. 1 Broncos (13-3) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — 2 hours until kickoff (2:40 p.m.)

—There are no players on the field. 

—Halftime in Carolina: Niners 13, Panthers 10.

—The breeze is picking up. Expert meteorologist Chris Bianchi, who should book me for his radio shows more often, says the breeze could hit 30 mph by game’s end.

—What of the Wes Welker factor? Me thinks he’s a bigger factor next week agains the Patriots (above) — if the Broncos advance past the Chargers.

—Fans are starting to file in. They’re doing it wrong. The tailgates are just getting amped up.

Back in a few.

Klee

Play.Wind 

Broncos Gameday Live Report — No. 6 Chargers (10-7) at No. 1 Broncos (13-3) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — 2 hours, 30 minutes until kickoff (2:40 p.m.)

—There are three guys setting up cameras atop the giant videoboard (above). That job must come with hazard pay. It’s really blowing. 

—At Dove Valley this week, I didn’t see a nervous team. But around Denver, I saw a very, very nervous fanbase.

—The official prediction is coming at 2 p.m. You won’t like it.

—The wind is howling. It’s warm enough to fish the South Platte today, but you’d have to sacrifice casting accuracy.

—This is a no-Bolo zone. Never has so much been made out of something so little.

—I sense some trickery coming from the Broncos today. Fake punt? Onside kick? Trindon Holliday on a reverse?

—Shannon Sharpe on the game today: “It is a bad matchup.”

—Agreed, Mr. Tight End.

—What does this game mean for Peyton Manning? Here is Thursday’s column from Dove Valley.

Back in a few.

Klee

Play.Field

Broncos Gameday Live Report — No. 6 Chargers (10-7) at No. 1 Broncos (13-3) — Sports Authority Field at Mile High — 3 hours until kickoff (2:40 p.m.)

Morning, everyone. Denver sports columnist Paul Klee joining you from Sports Authority Field — one year, to the day, of the Mile High Mistake. Can the Broncos turn their nightmare into a playoff dream? I’ll be here through the final horn. Let’s get started…

—The weather absolutely, positively, definitely will be a factor. Watching third-string quarterback Zak Dysert go through his pregame warmups on the field (above), and his passes are being blown about by the breeze. One just sailed over the head of Joel Dreessen.

—Why is the wind important? Adam Gase, way back in November, said the cold weather isn’t a factor with the Broncos offense. But the wind is.

—Talked to Terrell Davis this week. The Broncos legend discussed playoff heartbreak, the impact of new uniforms — and offered a prediction on today’s game.

—Me thinks the most important factor in today’s game isn’t on the field. He’s on the Chargers sideline.

Back in a few.

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette