A really good way to make your football coach mad at you is to get called for a whole bunch of penalties.
A really good way is to make your football coach incredibly mad at you is to get called for a whole bunch of penalties, turn the ball over too many times, make mistakes on special teams, and keep a team you should beat handily in the game far too long.
The Chargers did all that and it cost them in a 23-22 loss to Denver in front of a largely orange crowd at StubHub Center. The Bolts were penalized 14 times for 120 yards.
Penalties short-circuited a pair of first quarter drives that got to the Red Zone but ended with Michael Badgley kicking field goals of 46 and 45 yards as the Chargers took a 6-0 lead. Their defense force a 4th down at midfield but, just like last week in Oakland, the punt unit was fooled by a fake. Punter Colby Wadman threw to Andy Janovich for a 1st down and on the next play rookie running back Phillip Lindsay blasted 41 yards for a TD and a 7-6 Broncos lead.
Rivers led a drive that ended with a 4-yard TD pass to Keenan Allen that gave the Chargers a 13-7 lead at the break. They got the ball to start the 2nd half and scored again, this time with Rivers finding Antonio Gates for a 6-yard score. Badgley missed his first PAT as a Bolt so the lead was 19-7.
Then a turnover started turning the tables. Rivers tried a quick pass but threw it right into the face of linebacker Von Miller, who returned it inside the 20-yard line. Three plays later Imperial product Royce Freeman scored from the three to make it a 19-14 game.
In the 4th quarter the Broncos took the lead back when Lindsay took a wildcat snap and ran in from the two. The 2-point conversion was no good but the Broncos, who to that point had half as many offensive yards as the Chargers, had a 20-19 lead.
Badgley hit a 30-yard field goal to give the Chargers the lead back and then the Broncos let the game slip away. On 3rd and 7 from midfield tight end Jeff Heuerman dropped a wide open pass that would have extended the drive and put Denver in field goal range.
For some reason the Chargers tried a pass on 3rd and 7 after the 2:00 warning. It fell incomplete, giving the Broncos plenty of time to put together a drive. Keenum hit Courtland Sutton for a big gain to the 16 yard line and was able to clock it with three seconds left.
Brandon McManus nailed a 34-yard field goal to a massive roar in Carson that gave the Broncos a 23-22 win.
Denver improves to 4-6 while the Chargers slip to 7-3. Next week the Bolts host the Cardinals, another team with a losing record, before their trip to Pittsburgh against the 1st place Steelers on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.