Broncos–Chargers rivalry

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Denver Broncos wordmark.svg
Denver Broncos
Los Angeles Chargers wordmark.svg
Los Angeles Chargers
First meetingOctober 16, 1960
Chargers 23, Broncos 19
Latest meetingOctober 6, 2019
Broncos 20, Chargers 13
Next meetingDecember 1, 2019
Meetings total120
All-time seriesBroncos, 67–52–1
Postseason resultsBroncos, 1–0
  • January 12, 2014: Broncos 24, Chargers 17
Largest victoryBroncos, 38–3 (1997);
Chargers: 58–20 (1963), 41–3 (2007)
Longest win streakBroncos, 7 (1975–78);
Chargers, 6 (1963–66)
Current win streakBroncos, 1 (2019–present)
Playoff and Championship success
AFL Championships (1960–1969)
Super Bowl Championships (3)
AFL Western Division Championships (5)
AFC West Divisional Championships (25) (1970–present)
AFC Wild Card Berths (14) (1970–present)
Super Bowl Appearances (9)

The Broncos–Chargers rivalry is a rivalry between the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers in the National Football League's AFC West division. Since the American Football League was established in 1960, the Broncos and Chargers have shared the same division, first being the AFL Western Conference, and since the AFL–NFL merger, the AFC West.

The Broncos lead the overall series 67–52–1. The teams have met once in the playoffs, a 24–17 Broncos win in the 2013 AFC Divisional Round.

Notable moments[edit]


  • November 17, 1985: Broncos' safety Dennis Smith blocked two straight field goal attempts in overtime, after the Chargers had advanced the football to the Broncos' 23-yard line in the first overtime possession. On 4th and 4 from the Broncos' 23, Smith blocked Bob Thomas' initial field goal attempt, only to have it negated due to a timeout being called by teammate Mike Harden prior to the kick. Following the timeout, Thomas attempted a second kick, and this was also blocked by Smith and returned by Louis Wright for a 60-yard touchdown for a 30–24 Broncos' overtime win at Mile High Stadium.[1][2]
  • September 4, 1994: The Broncos jumped out to a 24–6 lead at Mile High Stadium on the Chargers in the second quarter, however, the Chargers responded, and took a 27–24 lead at half time, after safety Stanley Richard returned a John Elway interception 99 yards for a touchdown just before halftime. The Chargers later sealed the victory after linebacker Junior Seau recovered a fumble by Elway in the game's closing seconds.[3]
  • September 14, 2003: The Broncos routed the Chargers 37–13 at Qualcomm Stadium. However, the game is notable for a uniform mix-up, in which the Broncos came to the stadium in their road white jerseys, when the host Chargers were planning to wear white, and were supposed to be the team that declared their uniform color. The Broncos were fined $25,000 as a result, and when the two teams met at Invesco Field at Mile High later that season in Week 11 (November 16), the NFL allowed the Chargers to choose their uniform color in advance, and they chose navy blue, forcing the Broncos to wear their white jerseys at home for the first time since 1983.[4]
  • December 10, 2006: The Chargers routed the Broncos 48–20 at Qualcomm Stadium, in which Chargers' running back LaDainian Tomlinson set a new NFL record for touchdowns in a single season, with 28.[5]


  • December 24, 2007: In the fourth quarter of a Monday night game at Qualcomm Stadium, Broncos' quarterback Jay Cutler was involved in a verbal scuffle with Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers and linebacker Matt Wilhelm, with Rivers taunting Cutler and Wilhelm mocking a "waving" gesture. Broncos' cornerback Champ Bailey took exception to Rivers' taunting of Cutler.[6]
  • September 14, 2008: With 52 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Chargers were leading 38–31 in Denver. The Broncos hiked the ball on 2nd-and-goal from the Chargers' 1-yard line. Jay Cutler rolled out to the right and fumbled the football before he brought his arm forward, which was recovered by Chargers' linebacker Tim Dobbins. However, referee Ed Hochuli called the play dead as he believed it to be an incomplete pass, so the ball was returned to the Broncos at the 10-yard line (the spot where the ball hit the ground). Two plays later, on 4th-and-goal from the 4, Cutler threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Eddie Royal to make the score 38–37. Instead of kicking an extra point to tie the game and send it to overtime, Broncos' head coach Mike Shanahan opted for a 2-point conversion. Cutler completed the conversion with another pass to Royal, giving the Broncos a 39–38 victory.[7]
  • December 28, 2008: The Broncos and Chargers met in the 2008 regular-season finale in San Diego, with the winner clinching the AFC West title. Three weeks earlier, the Broncos were 8–5 and the Chargers were 5–8, with the Broncos losing their next two games and the Chargers winning their next two to pull to within one game of the Broncos for the division lead. Three and a half months after the aforementioned controversial Broncos' win in Denver, the Chargers exacted revenge, with an emphatic 52–21 win that not only completed a monumental Broncos' season-ending collapse, but also denied the Broncos a playoff berth. The two teams finished the 2008 season tied for first-place in the AFC West, each with an 8–8 record, however, the Chargers won the division based on a better record against AFC West divisional opponents (5–1 to the Broncos' 3–3).[8] This was also Mike Shanahan's last game as the Broncos' head coach, as he was fired two days later after 14 seasons.[9]
  • November 27, 2011: Quarterback Tim Tebow led the Broncos to a 16–13 win at Qualcomm Stadium in overtime, with kicker Matt Prater nailing a 37-yard field goal with 29 seconds left. Earlier in overtime, the Broncos blocked a 53-yard attempt by Chargers' kicker Nick Novak, however, Broncos' head coach John Fox called a timeout prior to the kick. Novak subsequently missed the second attempt.[10]


  • October 15, 2012: Trailing 24–0 at halftime after back-to-back special teams turnovers and an interception returned for a touchdown, quarterback Peyton Manning led the Broncos to a stunning 35–24 comeback win in San Diego. Three second-half interceptions and two lost fumbles by Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers swung the momentum toward the Broncos' favor, as Manning and the Broncos capitalized on each Chargers' mistake. Manning went 13/14 for 167 yards and three touchdowns in the second half, hitting Demaryius Thomas on a 29-yard score with 10:56 left in the third quarter to get the Broncos on the scoreboard. Following a 65-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery by cornerback Tony Carter, the Broncos suddenly found themselves down only 10 as the Chargers watched their comfortable halftime lead dwindle. Manning added two more touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, finding Eric Decker on a 7-yard score and then connecting with Brandon Stokley on a 21-yard pitch and catch to give the Broncos a 28–24 lead with 9:03 left. Cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. sealed the comeback with a 46-yard interception return to put the Broncos up 35–24 with 2:06 left. The defense added one final takeaway as Rivers fumbled in the game's final minute to end what was certainly an instant Monday Night Football classic.[11]
  • September 11, 2017: The Chargers were attempting a game-tying 44-yard field goal at Sports Authority Field at Mile High with five seconds left in the game, after trailing 24–7 to begin the fourth quarter. However, Chargers' placekicker Younghoe Koo's field goal attempt was blocked by Broncos' defensive end Shelby Harris for a Broncos' 24–21 win. Koo's initial field goal attempt was good, but it was nullified as the result of Broncos' head coach Vance Joseph calling a timeout in order to ice the kicker, forcing a second attempt.[12]
  • November 18, 2018: The Chargers were leading 19–7 in the third quarter at StubHub Center, and were threatening to pull away from the Broncos. However, linebacker Von Miller swung the momentum in the Broncos' favor, with an interception of a screen pass by Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers, returning the football 40 yards to the Chargers' 18-yard line. This set up a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Royce Freeman to pull the Broncos to within a 19–14 deficit. Following a 2-yard touchdown by running back Phillip Lindsay (with an unsuccessful two-point attempt) and a go-ahead 30-yard field goal by Chargers' placekicker Michael Badgley, Broncos' quarterback Case Keenum engineered a game-winning drive, culminating in a 34-yard field goal by placekicker Brandon McManus as time expired, for a 23–22 Broncos' victory.[13]

Game results[edit]

Denver Broncos vs. San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers Season-by-Season Results

Connections between the teams[edit]


Name Broncos' tenure Chargers' tenure
Craig Aukerman Defensive assistant, 2010 Assistant Special Teams coach, 2013–16
Clancy Barone Tight ends coach, 2009, 2011–14
Offensive line coach, 2010, 2015–16
Tight ends coach, 2007–08
Tim Brewster Tight ends coach, 2005–06 Tight ends coach, 2002–04
Assistant head coach, 2004
Jeff Davidson Guard, 1990–93
Offensive line coach, 2017
Offensive line coach, 2016
John Fox Head coach, 2011–14 Secondary coach, 1992–93
Alex Gibbs Offensive line coach, 1984–87
Assistant head coach/Offensive line coach, 1995–2003
Offensive line consultant, 2013
Offensive line coach, 1990–91
Anthony Lynn Running back, 1993, 1997–99
Assistant special teams coach, 2000–02
Head coach, 2017–present
Mike McCoy Offensive coordinator, 2009–12, 2017 Head coach, 2013–16
Ron Milus Secondary coach, 2000–02 and 2011–12 Secondary coach, 2013–present
Mike Nolan Special teams coach, 1987–88
Linebackers coach, 1989–92
Defensive coordinator, 2009
Linebackers coach, 2015
Wayne Nunnely Defensive line coach, 2009–11 Defensive line coach, 1997–2008
Dwain Painter Offensive assistant, 1997 Quarterbacks coach, 1994–96
Wade Phillips Defensive coordinator, 1989–92, 2015–16
Head coach, 1993–94
Defensive coordinator, 2004–06
Greg Williams Defensive backs coach, 2018 Assistant defensive backs coach, 2013–15


Name Position(s) Broncos' tenure Chargers' tenure
Stephen Alexander Tight end 2005–07 2002–03
Jeremiah Attaochu Linebacker 2019–present 2014–17
David Binn Long snapper 2011 (one game) 1994–2010
Marco Coleman Defensive end 2004–05 1996–98
David Diaz-Infante Center/Guard 1996–98 1987
Dedrick Dodge Safety 1997 1998
Virgil Green Tight end 2011–17 2018–present
Orlando Franklin Guard 2011–14 2015–16
Jacob Hester Fullback 2012 2008–11
Quentin Jammer Cornerback/Safety 2013 2002–12
Marlon McCree Safety 2008 2006–07
Anthony Miller Wide receiver 1994–96 1988–93
Russell Okung Offensive tackle 2016 2017–present
Shaun Phillips Defensive end 2013 2004–12
Adrian Robinson Linebacker 2013 (six games) 2013 (three games)
Dante Rosario Tight end 2011 2012
Eddie Royal Wide receiver/Return specialist 2008–11 2012–14
Neil Smith Defensive end 1997–99 2000
Jimmy Spencer Cornerback 2000–03[a] 1998–99
Harry Swayne Offensive tackle 1997–98 1991–96
Maa Tanuvasa Defensive tackle 1995–2000 2001
Mitch Unrein Defensive tackle 2011–14 2015
Louis Vasquez Guard 2013–15 2009–12
J. D. Walton Center 2010–13 2015
Wes Welker Wide receiver/Return specialist 2013–14 2004 (one game)
Jamal Williams Nose tackle 2010 1998–2009


  1. ^ Jimmy Spencer also worked as an assistant defensive backs coach with the Broncos in addition to playing during the 2003 season.


  1. ^ Saccomano, Jim (October 3, 2007). "Broncos-Chargers Always Interesting". Denver Broncos. Retrieved October 3, 2007.
  2. ^ "On This Day in Broncos History: November 17". Mile High Report. November 17, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
  3. ^ "Chargers Rally for 37-34 Victory : AFC: Trailing, 24-6, three touchdown passes by Humphries and a 99-yard interception return by Richard leads San Diego over Denver". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. September 5, 1994. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  4. ^ "End Zone Sports Charities" (PDF).
  5. ^ Bell, Jarrett (December 11, 2006). "Super Charger: L.T. sets single-season TD mark as Chargers clinch AFC West". USA Today. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  6. ^ "Broncos' Bailey not a fan of Rivers after talk during game". ESPN. December 27, 2007. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
  7. ^ "Cutler finds Royal for late TD, two-point play to edge Chargers". ESPN. September 14, 2008. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
  8. ^ Caldwell, Gray (December 29, 2008). "End of the Road". Denver Broncos. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  9. ^ "Shanahan, Broncos Part Ways". Denver Broncos. December 30, 2008. Archived from the original on November 26, 2011. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  10. ^ Legan, Kenny (November 27, 2011). "Overtime Field Goal Caps Comeback". Denver Broncos. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
  11. ^ Caldwell, Gray (October 16, 2012). "California Comeback". Denver Broncos. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
  12. ^ "Broncos block late FG, top Chargers 24-21 in Joseph's debut". ESPN. September 12, 2017. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  13. ^ "McManus' FG as time expires lifts Denver over Los Angeles". ESPN. November 18, 2018. Retrieved November 18, 2018.

External links[edit]