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Broncos, Briefly: Monday, Nov. 19, 2018

At halftime, as both teams ran off the field in the same tunnel, Rivers "said I made a great break on the (interception)," according to Harris.

"Can you believe he was giving me a compliment? I probably have the most interceptions against him."

On third down, Rivers obviously thought he had Ty Williams open at the sideline, but Harris materialized. It was Miller Time in the fourth quarter. It was necessary time.

The Broncos trailed 19-7, and Rivers had driven the Chargers to the Broncos' 35. A touchdown there, and the game would be over before it was over. But, again on third down, Rivers tried a screen pass. Von describes:

"My assignment on the play was to cover the running back out in the flat. But he didn't come out of the backfield. I knew they had three wide receivers out to that side, so I just stood there.

"He threw it right at me."

As Harris came down with the ball, he weaved through the Chargers' bench hollering, a bit of, uh, celebratory trash talk. Earlier in the week, Harris conceded that Rivers gets under players' skin because of his penchant for whining. Maybe Rivers saw the interview, because Harris claimed the Chargers' quarterback called him out early Sunday.

"It was crazy man, Philip came out on that first play, I guess he got that first third down on me, and he just started screaming at me. Like talking so much shit to me," Harris said in the locker room with a wide grin. "I was like, 'OK, you wanna wake up the dog today?! OK!' … So that's what happened. He came out talking shit to me, and now I gotta make him pay. I had to talk shit to their whole sideline because, I'm telling you man, he started it with me. He started talking shit to me. I was just playing ball and then everybody on the D-line and all the linebackers looked at me like, 'Is he really talking to you like that?' So I just had to make him pay."

The rest of the story is still to be told, especially if the Broncos' momentum ends against the Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday, but for one weekend in the Broncos looked like the team they've been telling everyone they could be. They were a hard-nosed, gritty bunch on defense who could get to the quarterback, create turnovers and put their offense in position to score.

"We'll see, it's one game," said Broncos coach Vance Joseph. "Our motto after the bye was one game at a time, winning the day, so we'll see about that."

"It just so happened we got on the good end," said running back Phillip Lindsay.

"This team was resilient," McManus said. "It's obviously great with how bad you want to get back out there and make another kick."

Coach Vance Joseph gave McManus a game ball in a jubilant visiting locker room.

"We're proud of B-Mac," Joseph said. "He's our guy."

McManus has made 14-of-17 field goals plus all 24 extra-point tries. He's had two game-winners this season — adding to his late-game heroics versus the Raiders in Week 2. The Broncos never lost confidence in their battle-tested kicker.

"We all believe in (McManus)," cornerback Chris Harris said. "We won Super Bowl with him kicking amazing. He misses one every once in a while. It is what it is. But we have 100-percent trust with B-Mac. We're always going to ride with him."

The Broncos were still hanging tough against the heavily-favored Los Angeles Chargers, but a fake punt pass by Colby Wadman, a Von Miller interception, and strong running by rookies Phillip Lindsday and Royce Freeman were carrying Keenum along until he found his rhythm.

Then came the fourth quarter. Keenum hit rookie Courtland Sutton for a 39-yard strike down the middle to set up a go-ahead touchdown. When the Chargers behind Philip Rivers regained the lead with a drive for a field goal, Keenum stepped up like never before since signing a two-year, $36 million contract with the Broncos.

After a busted play between Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon -- "He must have heard it wrong or something, he went the wrong way,'' Rivers said of Gordon -- led to the the Chargers punting the ball back to the Broncos, Keenum was at his 8-yard line with 1:51 remaining, no timeouts and his team down, 22-20.

"I know Case doesn't flinch,'' Sutton said. "I know the receivers don't flinch and the offensive line goes out there and does whatever we need to do to win the game.''

Von Miller completely flipped the script. With the Chargers holding a 12-point lead and driving into scoring range, the Broncos pass rusher instinctively read Philip Rivers, picked off a screen pass and galloped 42 yards to the 18-yard line setting up a touchdown. The play jumpstarted a previously deadon-arrival Broncos offense and made a would-be blowout into a tight tilt the Broncos swiped at the end.

"It's a lot more attention on you,'' Lindsay said. "For me, I don't like all that attention so I kind of stay out of the spotlight. I stay to myself. As a rookie, it's a lot. It's a lot to focus on. Every day you're doing something different. Games are fast. The week is fast. There's so much stuff going on that you don't have time to enjoy and sashay around.''

How was your day, son? Secure at his folks' home, fast and strong for any size, Lindsay is one of the league's top Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates, along with Barkley, Indianapolis guard Quentin Nelson and possibly Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield if he continues to play well in the second half.

Those three competitors for the rookie award were all drafted within the top six picks of the first round. Lindsay went in the "no round," signing sometime after Washington used the No. 256 and final selection on receiver Trey Quinn.

"I definitely would like it (the rookie award), but I don't have any say in it, nor do I care about Barkley and Baker Mayfield, what they're doing because I'm focused on winning games for us,'' Lindsay said. "Of course, you're going to want the big-name people to win it, but at the end of the day I'm going to keep moving forward. I'm going to have the offensive line and quarterback and everybody's behind me. That's all that matters.''

UP: Broncos Country. As expected, lackluster Chargers' fan support paired with a venue that seats just 27,000 produced a strong showing of Denver fans at the StubHub Center. The split appeared about 50- 50 from a press box view, but the noise generated for Broncos' points suggested Denver fans might have held the advantage.

There is hope.

It wears No. 30, like TD once did. It crunches quarterbacks, like Von still does. It sprints like the Santa Ana winds nudge it along.

There's hope for the Broncos in Phillip Lindsay, Bradley Chubb, Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman. The future of the franchise arrived with a whoa! on Sunday under the sunshine of a southern California afternoon. What the Broncos' 23-22 win over the Chargers says for this year, I can't pretend to know. What it means for the team's future was as apparent as the scowl worn by Philip Rivers as he left StubHub Center in a pair of rockin' cowboy boots.

The kids are going to be all right. Sutton, 78 receiving yards. Chubb, one sack and constant pressure of Rivers. "That's the defensive rookie of the year," Miller said. Freeman, touchdown. Lindsay, 106 yards and two touchdowns. For the Broncos it's been a long slog to reach 4-6.

Offensive line shines. The Broncos' rebuilt offensive line did not allow a sack, two weeks after center Matt Paradis sustained a season-ending broken leg and two days after left guard Max Garcia was ruled out for the season with a torn ACL. Elijah Wilkinson started at right guard, McGovern moved from right guard to center and Turner played left guard.

"Incredible," quarterback Case Keenum said. "To not give up any sacks was big time."

Right tackle Jared Veldheer credited McGovern for his pre-snap communication.

"Connor did an awesome job," Veldheer said. "There wasn't a time where I felt I was in the dark. Everybody stayed composed and stayed with their (assignment) rules and we were able to be productive."

Joseph said the offensive line received game balls for their performance. The Broncos did not allow a sack for the first time this year.