SAN DIEGO —** As the Broncos took the field for their first drive, they looked right at home at the Chargers' Qualcomm Stadium, which felt a bit like home, too, with an abnormal amount of orange blanketing significant portions of the stands.
In measured steps, the offense marched down the field in eight plays on a 76-yard touchdown drive. Running backs Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson each had first-down runs, and quarterback Brock Osweiler spread the ball around until the final play, a three-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
The Broncos didn't score in the second half, but they didn't need to with the defense holding San Diego to three points.
That opening series was almost impeccable, but the Broncos offense wasn't perfect for much more of the 17-3 win over the Chargers. However, it didn't need to be to get a crucial road victory.
While the defense was in stellar, stingy form, the offense put together a few drives that ate up the clock. When faced with poor starting field position, it moved the chains and ensured it wouldn't give the ball back to San Diego in a beneficial spot.
"We slowed down a little bit throughout the game. We did what we had to do to stay into it," Osweiler said. "We made a few mistakes; we'll watch that on tape. We'll learn from them. We'll get better because of those mistakes."
One of those mistakes was an interception that came as the Broncos were driving deep into San Diego territory.
After a missed field goal on their first possession of the third quarter, a score on the following drive could effectively be a nail in the coffin against the Chargers' struggling offense. On the eighth play of the drive, the Broncos had moved to the San Diego 27-yard line and Osweiler heaved a pass deep to the left side of the end zone, intended for WR Emmanuel Sanders. But it was short, and cornerback Jason Verrett picked it off easily.
"My biggest thing in those situations, I want to know what you see," Head Coach Gary Kubiak said. "My conversation was, 'Your team's up 14. You don't take that chance with the ball. You check it down and you make sure we go up three scores.'
"His nature is to be aggressive -- which I like. But he's got to learn from those situations. On the road, up 14, you make sure right there you don't turn the ball over. The good news is, we win the game and he can learn from that."
The offense wasn't all Brock, either. With the early score, the Broncos had the pleasure of being able to dictate their play-calling, as opposed to a deficit weighing heavily on what mix of run and pass plays they could utilize. So the Broncos ran, and they ran a lot.
Running backs Ronnie Hillman, C.J. Anderson and Juwan Thompson combined for 34 carries, with Brock Osweiler adding three rushes, and Sanders and WR Andre Caldwell each taking the ball out of the backfield once. Combined, they had 134 rushing yards.
Anderson left the game after an ankle injury he suffered shortly before halftime, but he was proud of the way the team ran after the break with Thompson getting more carries.
"I'm excited, man. It was good to see Ronnie, and it was good to see Juwan go out there," Anderson said. "People got to see Juwan and what he can do. I mean, he's sitting behind me and Ronnie, and we always know Juwan can play. So it's just good that we can just tote the ball when we need to and just continue to run and put up the yards we want to put up."
It may not have been the performance any individual player wanted to see on offense, but the end result gave them exactly what they wanted, and in the way they wanted it.