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How Phillip Lindsay's 55-yard run sparked Broncos to a magical comeback win over Chargers

DENVER — At the time, it didn't seem like much.

Down 24-3, nothing was going the Broncos' way. The Chargers had scored touchdowns on back-to-back drives to cap the first half, and then added 10 more points on their first two drives of the second half.

So when Phillip Lindsay knifed his way through the Chargers' front seven and then split two defensive backs for a 55-yard touchdown, it may not have felt quite like a sea change in the Broncos' fortunes.

But to the players on the field and on the sideline, it was that and more.

"As soon as I saw the offense score — I think it was that 55-yard touchdown from Phil — I was like, 'We're fighting,'" Justin Simmons said after the game. "It'd be different if we got out there and every week you see the same things happening, but we're fighting. The offense was fighting, Phil broke a couple of tackles, the offensive line was blocking for him, shot through the line and found a way to get into the end zone."

The play itself was a dazzling display of vision, burst through the hole in the line and speed by Lindsay — a perfect application of talent at a crucial point in the game.

"It was a good play call by [Offensive Coordinator] Pat [Shurmur], and I was pretty much able to get one on one with the linebacker, make a move, and just explode out of there, which we needed," Lindsay said. "We were talking on the sideline about how we needed a big play, and somebody needed to do it and I was the one to be able to do it and spark it up."

What was so amazing, too, was that Lindsay had run for just 1 yard on three carries to that point. Waiting for his opportunity, Lindsay had to be patient.

"Phillip was calm today," Drew Lock said. "There's a lot of times where you have 4 rushing yards at half and Phillip's going to lose his you-know-what. We're getting older, we're getting experience, we're all getting better. And him coming out, staying levelheaded, being ready for the play to come his way and he made it when it came his way. That was just the epitome of tonight. When the play was there to be made, guys ended up making them."

The touchdown, which cut the Chargers' lead to just two touchdowns, did more than just light a fire under the offense. It also did the same for the defense.

"Defensively, [we were like], 'They're fighting, man. Let's get out there and find a way to get them the ball again — better yet, let's get a takeaway, let's put them on a short field so we can put up another pair of points,'" Simmons said. "It's all about that momentum swing, how you feel when you're in rhythm."

As Simmons tells it, Lindsay's touchdown was the moment he knew a comeback was in the making. Even if most onlookers didn't, the players could sense something in the making.

In spite of the growing deficit, Lindsay said he told Melvin Gordon III that they'd have their opportunity.

"I told Melvin, 'Look Mel, I've been here and since I've been here, I know how they work. If we can get 10 points in this quarter — or close to it — by the fourth quarter we're going to win this game. We just have to stay in there. Our defense is going to hold, especially in the fourth quarter.'

"We went on, we got the [nearly] 10 points and the defense put us back in position to win the game," Lindsay said. "That's all you can ask for is for a chance to win the game. The fact is that we came out, we executed, and we won."

As the Broncos hope to build on one of the franchise's finest comeback victories, Lindsay wants to ensure they don't have to do it again.

"It was a great win, but we've got to go back to work and find ways to do something in the beginning of the game so that we're not in predicaments like this," Lindsay said. "That's our problem right now. We need to find ways to have explosive plays so that our defense isn't put under pressure for so long. You can only do that for so long."

Perhaps a comeback like this could foreshadow more success to come on offense, as Head Coach Vic Fangio said.

"It can be big," Fangio said. "… [T]he best way you can get confidence is to have good play. You don't need to be sitting on some psychologist's couch to get confidence or read a book to get confidence. You've got to go out and play well, and when you play good, you get confident. Now we can build on that. We had six quarters where we were not really competitive offensively. Now in the second half, after the first series, we caught on fire and hopefully this will bring us to bigger and better things."

Take a look at the team's celebration on the field after one of the most-exciting Broncos victories in recent history.

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