ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – On Sunday, when the Broncos line up across from the Chargers in the Divisional Round of the 2013 playoffs, it will be exactly one month removed from the last matchup between the two teams.
On Dec. 12, the Chargers came to Sports Authority Field at Mile High and came away with a 27-20 victory in a Thursday night tilt.
Now that the two teams' paths are crossing again on Jan. 12, that Thursday-night game has some lessons to offer.
"Get off the field on third down," linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. "They had 175 yards on the ground but we didn't get off the field on third down. They were like 50 percent and that was the key. Anytime you play a good running team if you're not off the field on third down then they can just continue to keep running the ball and control the clock. That was the big thing -- getting off the field on third down."
The Chargers finished the Week 15 matchup having converted on six of their 12 third-down attempts and as a result controlled the time of possession. San Diego had the ball for more than 38 minutes, leaving the Broncos with the ball for a little more than 21.
This week, the Broncos' attention has turned to making sure that the Chargers don't have the same successes they had in the last matchup.
"Can't blame (the loss) on anybody but ourselves," defensive end Malik Jackson said. "We went out there and we didn't get the job done. They're a good team and they deserved it. Now we have to go out there and do what we know we need to do this week in practice and go out there on Sunday and do what we know how to do – which is play good defense."
Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said that he didn't think that the game in December was all that relevant to this Sunday's game, saying that "it's the playoffs now, it's win or go home."
But he did go on to say that they'll be looking back at that game to see what things can be improved.
"You can't blame (the loss) on anything because we both had short weeks it's just that they outplayed us that week and (we will) just go back and look at the game to see what stuff we left out that we can do better," Thomas said.
"Hopefully come Sunday, we're capable of putting it on the field and getting the 'W.'"
Head Coach John Fox said after practice Monday that they would gain knowledge from the last matchup but they would gain their motivation from the next one. "I think you always look back," Fox said. "I mean, that is what the past – you try to learn from that. You try to get motivated by future. But you want to keep your focus in the present, in the now, and that's what we're trying to do with our football team."