By Jeremy Gonzalez, Sports Editor
Rookie quarterback Drew Lock made his debut after receiving first team snaps earlier in the week and rewarded Denver with two touchdowns and a victory over a division rival. Lock’s debut came a month after Brandon Allen made his debut for the Broncos and won against the Cleveland Browns.
Lock’s victory made the Broncos the first team in league history to have two quarterbacks start and win their NFL debuts in the same season.
The game winning field goal by McManus was set up by a 38-yard pass interference call on Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward Jr.
The Broncos returned the final kickoff to their own 28 yard line after the Chargers tied the game at 20 on kicker Michael Badgley’s 46-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining. With nine seconds left on the clock, Lock threw a deep ball down the sideline to receiver Courtland Sutton. Sutton collided with Hayward during the deep ball and flags came flying onto the field.
The Chargers argued profoundly about the defensive pass interference call, which gave Denver the ball at the Chargers 35-yard line with three seconds left, setting up McManus for the field goal.
Los Angeles quarterback Phillip Rivers threw an early interception, his eighth in three games, but bounced back and threw touchdown passes of 30 yards to Austin Ekeler and 36 yards to Keenan Allen.
Rivers completed a 38-yard bomb to receiver Mike Williams on fourth down in the closing minutes to get the Chargers in range for the tying field goal. Badgley missed a 55-yard field goal off the left post with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Lock and Sutton quickly provided a spark to the disoriented Denver offense early in the first half. After going three-and-out on the opening drive, Lock threw a pair of touchdown passes to Sutton for a 14-0 lead.
The loss against the Broncos is the third in a row for the Chargers and puts the team in a tie with Denver for third place in the AFC West with both teams at 4-8 overall records. Denver is ahead of Los Angeles due to a better division record and a season sweep. The Chargers are 0-4 when facing AFC West opponents. It should be noted that all eight losses that the Chargers have suffered have been decided by seven points or less.
Chargers: Los Angeles will travel to Florida to face the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) on Dec. 8. The Jaguars are coming off a 28-11 trouncing at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Jags were down 25-0 at halftime and benched Nick Foles for rookie Gardner Minshew, who was named the starter for the rest of the season.
Broncos: Denver will face the Houston Texans (8-4) on the road in Week 14. Deshaun Watson had his best game this season against the New England Patriots in Week 13 as he completed 72 percent of his passes and threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions with a 140.7 passer rating.