ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –Last time the Broncos and Chargers squared off, each team dominated for 30 minutes of play.
Trailing 24-0 at halftime, the Broncos reeled off 35 unanswered points to come away with a historic comeback victory.
This time around, both teams will be looking to extend the things it did well for 30 minutes to full game.
"Make no mistake about it," defensive tackle Justin Bannan said. "It's going to be a 60-minute ball game. It's going to be hard fought. I don't think they need any extra motivating factors just as we don't either."
The first half was a forgettable one for the Broncos, as the team lost two special-teams fumbles and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
San Diego's average drive start was its 42-yard line, while Denver's was its 14.
"It wasn't a good start for us but I also thought we played against a really good defense and they just out-played us in that first half," quarterback Demaryius Thomas said. "In the second half, I thought we certainly played better."
Right after halftime, the Broncos set the tone with an eight-play, 85-yard drive that resulted in a 29-yard touchdown pass from Manning to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
The defense would go on to force five second-half turnovers – scoring on two of them – while pitching a shutout to make the Broncos just the fifth team in NFL history to overcome a halftime deficit of 24 or more points.
"A lot was made of that, obviously, because it was a tale of two halves but we did a lot of things to self-destruct in that first half," Head Coach John Fox recalled. "We dropped two kicking plays on the ground. We gave them very positive field position. We had a miscommunication on a pass that went for a pick-6. Seventeen of those points were helped by us so we just played better in the second half and eliminated those problems."
The Broncos trailed early in its losses against Atlanta, Houston and New England, but were able to make a run to give themselves a chance in the fourth quarter. Finishing the comeback against San Diego further proved that no matter the score, the team never counts itself out of a game.
"We kept our poise," running back Willis McGahee said. "We didn't give up. We knew we could do it, but we had the turnovers early in the game that just gave them good field position and they scored from the. At the end of the day, we kept our poise. We didn't give up. The defense stayed with it and kept on fighting. The offense got going later on in the second half. It was just lights out from there."
Momentum from that game carried on through the subsequent bye week for both teams.
The Broncos haven't lost since, while the Chargers are 1-2, allowing Denver to open up a two-game lead in the AFC West.
"We started something right there and we've been able to put a few wins together here and that's what it's about," tight end Jacob Tamme said. "To eventually win the big one, you've got to put wins together. We've done a good job of that the last few weeks."