Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning warms up before playing against the San Diego Chargers in an NFL AFC division playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Kurt Kragthorpe: Third-and-17 play helps Broncs finish off Chargers

Third-and-17 play helps Broncs finish off Chargers

First Published Jan 12 2014 08:42 pm • Last Updated Mar 24 2014 11:33 pm

Denver

With another playoff game, another season and another championship opportunity for Peyton Manning in danger of getting away from them, the Denver Broncos faced a third-and-17 play late in the fourth quarter Sunday against San Diego.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"Not again," Broncos offensive lineman Zane Beadles was thinking.

"We’re gonna tie this baby up," Chargers safety Eric Weddle was thinking.

Manning delivered the deciding vote. Dancing in the pocket to avoid a heavy rush, Manning launched a pass that Julius Thomas caught barely in bounds, in front of the Broncos’ bench. The play covered 21 yards, preserved a 24-17 victory, sent the Broncos into next Sunday’s AFC championship game and ended the Chargers’ magical late-season run.

Who knows what may have happened, if the Chargers had maintained their coverage assignments and kept Manning from finding Thomas. Having led 17-0 after three quarters, the Broncos may have found themselves in overtime, and then what? Exactly a year ago, they failed to produce a clinching drive offensively and then gave up a tying touchdown to Baltimore in regulation before losing in OT.

"We weren’t going to let that happen again," said Beadles, a left guard from Hillcrest High School and the University of Utah.

Yet a drive that began in the last four minutes with Beadles’ false-start penalty hardly seemed promising, until Manning came through from his own 20-yard line. Beadles and the other linemen have protected Manning well all season, allowing an NFL-low 20 sacks, but the QB gets much of that credit. Manning "bailed the whole left side of the line out right there," Beadles said, giving himself time and space to make the throw.

"It was the perfect call against the perfect coverage," said Manning, crediting offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

Just the same, how many quarterbacks could have made that play? And, to their offseason lament, the Chargers cooperated.


story continues below
story continues below

"Miscommunication," said Weddle, Beadles’ former Ute teammate. "We were supposed to have somebody over there."

Weddle patiently discussed the breakdown through three waves of interviewers, and was still shaking his head and muttering after they left his locker, knowing the play cost the Chargers a chance to extend their miraculous run. They won their last four regular-season games to make the playoffs, then beat Cincinnati in a wild-card game. This potential tying rally would have topped all of that, after San Diego appeared overwhelmed for three quarters.

The Chargers’ offense was doing absolutely nothing, and the Broncos were thriving with their version of San Diego’s ball-control strategy, eventually running for 133 yards. "No huge runs, but very effective," Beadles said.

But then Weddle’s blitz helped the Chargers stuff a third-and-2 play and Denver missed a field-goal try, keeping the lead at 17-0 late in the third quarter. San Diego’s offense came to life with a touchdown. Denver matched it, but the Chargers kept coming with a TD, a successful onside kick and a field goal, giving themselves hope.

But a defense that held up well in three meetings this season with Denver’s "best offense ever assembled," by Weddle’s description, couldn’t get off the field. After the third-and-17 play, the Broncos converted twice more with another Thomas catch and a Moreno run. "From then on," Beadles said, "we just knew we were finishing this."

Unlike last January, in other words. So the Broncos are not done yet. New England and another of Beadles’ college teammates, defensive lineman Sealver Siliga, will come to Sports Authority Field next weekend with a Super Bowl berth at stake.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.