Manning's 3 TD passes spur Broncos' comeback
By Bernie Wilson ,AP
October 17, 2012, 12:05 am TWN
SAN DIEGO -- It took a quarterback of Peyton Manning's caliber to pull off this kind of comeback. After the Denver Broncos slogged through a nightmare of a first half, Manning showed that he's still one of the NFL's best.
Manning threw three touchdown passes in the second half and Tony Carter and Chris Harris scored off turnovers by Philip Rivers as the Broncos overcame a 24-0 halftime deficit to shock the San Diego Chargers 35-24 on Monday night.
"It sure was special considering what was on the line," said Manning, a Super Bowl winner and four-time NFL MVP who's in his first season with the Broncos.
Manning was 13 of 14 for 167 yards in the second half for the Broncos (3-3) who tied the Chargers (3-3) atop the AFC West.
It tied for the fourth-biggest regular-season comeback in NFL history.
Manning had been 1-5 in his last six games against San Diego, all with Indianapolis.
Rivers was intercepted four times — three in the fourth quarter — and lost two fumbles. The four pickoffs and six turnovers were both career-highs.
A week earlier, the Chargers blew a 10-point lead in the third quarter in a 31-24 loss at New Orleans.
"When you lose it's rough, especially in a game where you had a big lead and so much at stake," Rivers said.
The Broncos seemed finished after an awful first half in which Manning served up an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown by Quentin Jammer and two special teams fumbles led to 10 points for the Chargers.
"I thought we had a good plan. It was so disappointing to have these special team mistakes," Manning said.
Manning began the comeback when he hit Demaryius Thomas on a 29-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive of the second half.
On the ensuing San Diego possession, Elvis Dumervil stripped the ball from Rivers and Carter ran 65 yards for a touchdown, holding up the ball in celebration as he approached the end zone.
Denver then sacked Rivers to force a punt and Manning capped the next drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker to pull to 24-21.
Manning's 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley gave Denver its first lead of the game, 28-24 with 9:03 left. Stokley outleaped defensive back Marcus Gilchrist to catch the ball, and then got both feet down before tumbling out of the end zone.
That score was set up by Carter's interception.
Harris sealed the victory with a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown with 2:05 left. It was his second pick of the game.
"This was as good a second half of football as I've been involved in," Broncos coach John Fox said.