DENVER –Within the first five minutes of the game, the Broncos were already showcasing their depth at wide receiver.
Andre 'Bubba' Caldwell hauled in a 15-yard touchdown catch on the Broncos' opening drive to give Denver the early lead. Though the Broncos would eventually fall to the Chargers 27-20, Caldwell had one of the best games of his career.
"I'm happy with my performance but there are no moral victories here," Caldwell said after the game. "We lost the ballgame. That is the biggest thing – winning the football game and that didn't happen today."
Caldwell scored again in the fourth quarter on a five-yard pass that brought the Broncos back within one score of the Chargers. Thursday marked the first multi-touchdown game of his six-year career.
He finished the game with six catches and 59 yards, both game-highs, to go along with his two touchdowns. One of those catches came on a fourth-and-six in the fourth quarter and set up the Broncos' final touchdown.
"Bubba Caldwell played excellent," quarterback Peyton Manning said. "He had a great route on his first touchdown, then a good job getting in the end zone. Fourth down, tight coverage (he was targeted) – so I think it tells you the confidence I have in him. (Offensive Coordinator) Adam (Gase) called his number a couple of times and I went right to him."
Caldwell was also Manning's most targeted receiver in the game. Caldwell said that he didn't know how much of a role he was going to play in the game Thursday before taking the field.
"I knew it was going to be expanded a little bit," he said. "I didn't know exactly how much I was going to be in there – and how many passes I was going to get thrown. I think they saw I had a good matchup in the game and they just kept going to it."
The performance gives Caldwell three touchdowns this season – his first coming in the season-opening game against the Ravens – and nine scores in his career. The six catches he had in the game more than double his total for the 2013 season as this was his first game with more than one reception.
Though he easily had his best game of season, the loss makes it hard to enjoy.
"It's very tough," Caldwell said. "I went out there and tried to do all I can to help our team win a game. And we came out on the short end. So it's very tough. There are no rewards when you lose. I may (have) played pretty decent, but it's still a tough loss for me."