Peyton Manning completed the biggest comeback of his 14-year National Football League career as the Denver Broncos beat the San Diego Chargers 35-24 after trailing 24-0 at halftime.
Manning threw three touchdown passes and Denver scored twice off turnovers by Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers during the second half last night in San Diego. Rivers finished with five turnovers.
Of the 443 teams that have trailed by 24 or more points at halftime in the Super Bowl era, the Broncos became the fourth to come back and win, according to ESPN. Manning’s biggest previous comeback was when he rallied the Indianapolis Colts from a 21- point deficit in a 38-35 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Oct. 6, 2003.
“It sure is special considering what was on the line at this early point in the season,” Manning, 36, said in a televised interview. “It was a pivotal game and we can really build off this momentum.”
The Broncos, who improved to 3-3, matched the largest comeback win for any road team in NFL history.
“There’s no speech that causes that turnaround,” Manning said. “It’s simply a matter of will.’
The Chargers (3-3) took advantage of three Denver turnovers to open a 24-0 halftime lead, with Rivers throwing touchdown passes of 15 and 11 yards to tight end Antonio Gates.
San Diego scored 10 points in a 43-second span midway through the first quarter after the Broncos had fumbles on punt and kickoff returns. The Chargers pushed their lead to 17-0 as Quentin Jammer intercepted a pass from Manning and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown, the longest by a Chargers player since Willie Clark had an 83-yard interception return in 1996.
The Broncos have been outscored 98-42 in the first half this season, the biggest margin in the NFL.
Denver scored on its first possession of the second half, as Manning tossed a 29-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. Tony Carter then scooped up a fumble by Rivers and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown with 4:41 left in the third quarter to pull Denver within 24-14.
The Broncos scored again less than two minutes into the fourth quarter as Manning tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker. Denver took its first lead shortly after an interception by Rivers at midfield, as Manning tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley.
Rivers also threw interceptions on San Diego’s next two possessions, with Chris Harris scoring on a 46-yard return with 2:05 remaining to extend Denver’s lead to 35-24.
The Broncos have now outscored their opponents 128-40 in the second half of games this season.
‘‘We have shown the ability to come back, and offense and defense really did it together there in the second half,” said Manning, who finished with 309 yards passing, completing 24 of 30 throws. He connected on 14 straight passes after halftime and had only one incompletion in the second half.
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