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Vic Fangio, Broncos to enjoy long-awaited win ... and then go back to work

CARSON, Calif. — After five weeks and three one-possession losses, the Broncos have earned their first win of the season.

The 20-13 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers didn’t come easy, as the Broncos needed a late stop and score to finally put the Chargers away.

As Head Coach Vic Fangio said after his first win as a head coach, the end of the game wasn’t as clean as he hoped.

“I think ‘hang on’ is a better term than ‘finish,’” Fangio said. “We got out to a nice lead there, played well on both sides of the ball. And then we just went [cold]. We couldn’t get a first down there in the third quarter. We continued to play good defense through that span and then obviously the [Chargers’] punt-return [touchdown] kind of changed the game there a little bit. It went from a three-score game all of a sudden to a two-score game.

“So, we finished, but it was painful.”

Painful, but still a game that counts for the Broncos in the right column. And after a heart-wrenching September, the Broncos started off October in much better fashion.

In the process, they also helped Fangio reach his first milestone as the team’s head coach.

“It was huge [for a] first-year head coach to be able to get his first win on the road, [a] division game,” safety Kareem Jackson said. “It’s huge for us as a team and it’s huge for us to see him get that win. We’ve just got to continue to build on this. It’s a long season, we can still turn it around and get to where we want to go as a team. It’s going to take a complete group effort and we’ve just to continue to work day to day.”

President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway presented Fangio with a game ball in honor of his first win, and it was a ceremonial moment that Chris Harris Jr. said was a long time coming.

“We worked so hard to get wins, and the two games that we lost were very hard, but we just kept believing in each other, believing in Fangio,” Harris said. “… I wanted to give him the game ball a long time ago.”

Fangio didn’t keep the game ball for long, as he quickly tossed it over to linebacker Alexander Johnson.

The game, Fangio said afterward, was less about him than it was about his players.

“The way I look at it is just as the first win for the 2019 Broncos,” Fangio said. “Obviously the next few days will be better than the few days after the last few games for me and everybody else, but I’m really just happy for this team. … I know the results don’t show it and results can obscure a lot of things, justifiably so, but these guys have been doing everything we’ve asked of them. They fought.

“[Chargers head coach] Anthony Lynn, who is a guy that I respect, he told me before the game, ‘Hey, your guys are playing really, really hard. Just keep hanging in there.’ And he said, ‘I hope it’s not today.’ But I’m glad it was today.”

The Broncos, who scored 14 first-quarter points and forced three turnovers before hanging on late for a win, won’t celebrate this game for long.

“It feels good to win,” Von Miller said. “We can’t really bite off more than we can chew. Just stay in the moment. Great team win today [by] the offense and the defense, special teams plays well as well. Just staying humble. We want to celebrate this win and then move on to the next one. Just one day at a time.”

Fangio, though, isn’t yet looking ahead to Monday.

Asked how he would sleep on Sunday night after his first win as a head coach, Fangio quipped, “I may not.”

With two games in the next 11 days for the Broncos, he may get a head start on prep for Week 6.

“To be honest with you, we’ll probably get back to the facility … and I’ll go in and start working on Tennessee,” Fangio said.

After his first victory as a head coach and the team’s first win of the season, getting another is all that seems to matter.

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