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Published on 09/15/2008 at Mon Sep 15 09:25.
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Brandon Marshall Chargers
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Broncos 39, Charger 38. This longtime-vanilla rivalry has turned spicy, bitter, and downright vile in the span of two division games. Last December, San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers jawed at Denver Broncos QB Jay Cutler on Monday Night Football in a much-YouTube’d display of immaturity. In yesterday’s September Week Two showdown, things got even nastier, with the stakes higher and Chargers fans crying foul at referee Ed Hochuli and his controversial judgment.

I’ve gotten emails from Chargers fans, and some from Broncos fans, declaring that the Chargers were robbed. Broncos fans even “feel bad” for winning this game. You’re entitled to your opinion, but let’s separate those from facts right here and now. The bottom line is plain and simple. The Broncos and Chargers are the two best teams in the AFC West. Hold your head up high, Denver – on Sunday, regardless of who “was robbed,” the better team came out with a ‘W.’

The Champ Bailey interception

Champ Bailey vs. Chargers
Champ Bailey returns a Philip Rivers interception. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

The first-quarter malfunctioning replay equipment will probably never sit right with Chargers fans. CBS announcer Randy Cross didn’t help the matter – I understand it’s his job to give his take on a given play, especially one under review, but declaring it a given result to an audience of millions tainted the viewpoint of everyone who watched the play.

Look again. Rivers throws a ball that lands right between white and blue jerseys. Broncos CB Champ Bailey has his arms around that ball just as much as Chargers WR Chris Chambers. Did Chambers have “more right” to the ball than Bailey because he was the intended receiver? Not at all. Both men came down with a part of that football, and Champ came away with it. The ruling on the field was an interception – and it should be. Had the ruling been a fumble, forced and recovered by Bailey, Chargers fans would have a leg to stand on. Look at the final stat sheet and you’ll see Champ Bailey. One interception.

Even with non-”
malfunctioning equipment,” the play would have been upheld. The refs got this one right, end of story.

The Jay Cutler fumble/incomplete

Jay Cutler Fumble vs. Chargers
Jay Cutler botches the play in the 4th quarter. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Jay Cutler fumbled the football with 1:14 left in the game, with only Chargers linebacker Tim Dobbins in the vicinity to recover before the ball went out of bounds. However, before Dobbins got his mitts on the ball, referee Ed Hochuli blew his whistle, declaring the play dead, believing it to be an incomplete pass. Had he not blown the play dead – standard operating procedures, as they say – the Chargers would have recovered, ended the ball game, and claimed victory in INVESCO Field at Mile High once again. No one here is arguing that point. The refs blew it. The Chargers would have won had the ref not f’ed up.

Some would call it “tough luck,” but I wouldn’t even go that far. It was amazingly simple, pure, blind luck that gave the Chargers anything to cry over anyway. This Broncos offense had been firing on all cylinders up to that point.

So if you really want to make a BFD about this, Charger nation, go ahead. Oh my goodness, the play you couldn’t make on defense – because the Broncos offense KICKED YOUR ASS – just happened before your very eyes. The Kid makes a dumb mistake, and the Chargers should have won.

Damn, wouldn’t that have been really nice, to have been gifted a win like that? You would have won the game purely on luck. But a bit of karma bit you in the ass and the ref blew the play dead. Your good luck goes out the window and we’re even.

And so we’re back to football. You’re still leading with one minute left. Luck had nothing to do with Jay Cutler striking Eddie Royal in the end zone for six. Luck had nothing to do with Mike Shanahan‘s ballsy – and more importantly, incredibly smart – decision to go for two. Luck had nothing to do with Royal being open again ON THE SAME PLAY.

So tough luck your blind luck didn’t amount to a lucky break, Chargers fans. Get over it. You still had a chance to win the game between the stripes. Broncos fans, you have nothing to apologize for or feel sorry about. Hold your head up high. We caught a lucky break, but capitalized on it, too. I feel damn lucky to be 2-0 right now, but damn proud just the same.

If the Chargers “should” have won this game, they would have. Win next time. Enjoy your two-game hole in the AFC West, and see you in December.

  • Ian Henson

    That’s a very valid point. Kyle. Luck didn’t have anything to do with the Broncos final touchdown or two-point conversion.

  • BroncoFan18

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, Kyle. Hochuli’s call didn’t decide the game. It was Shanny’s guts and two great catches by Royal. Not to mention all the other drives where we just walked down the field.

    Plain and simple.

  • McCaffrey#1

    Well said! I never feel bad for a bronco win. 2-0 going into week 3. I love it. Go broncos!

  • Riverscanbl&wme

    I agree with you Kyle that the better team won this game. The only reason the fruits from San Diego were in this game was because Sproles pumped life into them not once but twice. 21 to 3 and Sproles takes it to the house and turns what would have been another Oakland beatdown into the thriller we had yesterday. Then Sproles makes Dumerville, McCree, and Webster look silly and slow on the 66 yard swing pass. This kid is electric and I for one would rather see LT’s whinney ass in the game than this KSU product. The point however is a valid one and it is that this play alone did not decide the game all by itself. Yes it happened with under 2 minutes left in the game but this is not first, nor will it be the last time refs have called the play dead and therefore negate any evidence revealed from a replay. A great coach for Nebraska named Tom Osbourne always used to say that “good teams overcome bad calls”. San Diego put themselves in position to rely on calls and couldn’t stop us from winning a game in which I believed we clearly deserved to win.

  • Boisebroncoguy

    I guess we can consider ourselves lucky because of the quick whistle. I don’t feel bad though. We’ve had enough things go against us that it’s nice to catch a break for once. And it couldn’t have come against a nicer team and quarterback. A quick note to Phyllis: Remember the way you acted the last time we played you, well, what goes around comes around.

  • T-Money

    Can we start talking about the Saints now?

  • dbroncos

    Hopefully we can take the Saints, the Redskins beat them.

  • ryan k

    Why do I keep hearing about how terrible the Broncos D is (which they are) and not SD’s? At least 7 of the 38 points we gave up were of a special teams play, unlike SD’s “elite” defense getting thrashed for 39 points!!

    Every radio show guy and writer is not talking about the fact that the Broncos carved up what is supposedly the best defense in football. Am I missing something here?

  • Richard

    To the Charger fans who have’nt sobered up and got over it, I say:

    If you need a break, go to McDonalds

    If you want someone to feel your pain, call Bill Clinton

    If you wold like to live in the past, download some Jethro Tull

    You lost the game because your championship Defense gave up a touchdown and two point conversion AFTER the “bad call”. You had three, count them THREE chances to win and you didn’t execute.

    Last week when we put up 41 against the Raiders, it was dismissed as a fair team beating $h** out of a pathetic team. We hung 39 on your “Championship” team and we somehow cheated? WELL EXCUSE ME( Steve Martin inflection required).

    So LT was a partial show in the game, So what. The D was short a star player, so what. Norv’s coaching not up to Shanahan standards, SO WHAT!

    THis morning on the blogs I’ve seen enough sour grapes to supply all of Italy with red WHine vinegar. Time to move on.

    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    the Saints come from NOLA
    and will leave losers too

  • Boisebroncoguy

    I would be happy to discuss the Saints. I don’t know too much about them, but, at least they don’t have any really short fast guys…………….except for Reggie Bush. Maybe we could cover him with Eddie Royal!

  • ryan k

    Amen Richard! Most underrated, under reported story of the week is the “best” defense getting lit up for 39 points! So all those qualifications last week of “well it was against the Raiders” goes right out the window.

  • dersh72

    Bravo! Couldn’t agree more. Like Tom Jackson said during “The Blitz” this game in no way should have been that close. Denver put played San Diego for much of the game and gave up a bonehead special teams touchdown, and gave the chargers the ball back when we were on the 2 yd line.

  • Chargerfan18

    The Chargers deseved to win the game very bad calls gave the broncos 14 points do the match Chargers should have won

  • bilrob

    Credit the play of Cutler and the rest of the team. Magnificent! Credit the call of Shanny for two points. Gutsy! However, IMHO, the play calling in the second half was bad. Of course we had some nice drives in the 4th quarter, but look at the one where we were on the four yard line, second and three and we pass. Intercepted!! We had had no trouble earlier in picking up short yardage. In this case two plays to pick up three yards and a first down or a TD. To me this is bad judgement on the part of who ever was calling the plays. Had we scored at this point, we would be up by 11 and kicking off to SD rather than watching Sproules run 66 yards for a TD after the interception.

  • mikebirty

    i think the best call of the drive was the 3rd down draw play. Took vital seconds off the clock. With those ticks back on, rivers would have won the game.

    The two pointer makes complete sense in the cold light of day. I think during camp some fan heckled bly about not forgetting green bay, given the two point try – shanny hasn’t forgotten it either. Lose the toss deep pass on whomever paymah was covering and we’re done.

  • kerry

    Paymah is a fucking joke!!! end of story. put in Jack Williams! he is faster, better vert and better agility. Paymah’s new nickname is “Toast” and Nate Webster has got to be the worst MLB in all of football. he only makes tackles 5 yards after the line. put Niko in, or give Spencer Larsen a shot. man if our D is this bad all year then we will have to rely on Cutler to win every game. and Cutler cant throw 50 times a game. his arm will fall off. we are like the Colts of a few years ago. all offense and no defense. Moss looks like he is gonna be riding the bench for a while.

  • jibbons

    We could spend all week deciding if they should have run on the interception play, but when they throw the ball in for the TD and the subsequent two points no one is questioning the call. I defer to Shannahan on all such judgement calls because he is clearly a ballsy genius.

  • jibbons

    Bench Paymah, if Jack is ready, and that is a big if to me because of his youth. And I question Webster’s ability as well. Good points Kerry.

  • rcsodak

    Here! Here!! If the tables had been turned, would Shanny have stood on the podium, crying/whining about the call? Hardly.

    Shanny might have mentioned it, but in the end, would have said that the D STILL had the chance to win it in the end, and didn’t.


    End of story.

    PS. Couldn’t have happened to a better team. lol

  • Truman

    Still depressed over the Broncos total lack of a pass rush. This has only been an issue for five years or so. Last year we had the opportunity to sign Patrick Kearny.

  • kerry

    i say Shanahan needs to make a move before the trade deadline. we NEED NEED NEED a pass rusher. yes Dumervil is good. but all a team has to do is double team him. and we have nobody else to pick up the slack. sure our run D is looking great. but pass rush is horrible. Moss seems to sit the bench just to make sure nobody steals it. i know this is far fetched but Julius Peppers is in his final year of his contract. and Carolina wont extend him. maybe a deal could be pulled off and we could acquire him. Redskins got Jason Taylor for a second round pick. maybe we could pull that off for Peppers. yes i know that is highly improbable. but something needs to be done. AND BENCH WEBSTER AND PAYMAH!!!!!!

  • Quicksilver

    The run D is looking great? they looked a little better than last year, but to say they looked great is way over the top. Out D was exposed yesterday, Chargers made adjustments and we made little or none. Paymah was abysmal doom was nowhere and even Baily was getting burned (i think because he is still cheating back to help on the run) we have got to make a move, I still think Niko looked better in pre season than webster. lets at least make that move and see if our d can stop another high powered Offense next week.

  • Gary

    I’m a Bronco fan living in SD. I moved here in ’96 and learned right away that they have a big chip on their shoulder for us here. Almost got ran out of a bar for having an Elway jersey on right after I moved here, that was in the off season too! Been pelted with peanuts at the Q, been called every name there under the Sun as well, so I just watch the games at home anymore… So I’m being bombarded with guilt trips the past two days and you know what? I’m loving it! I can’t tell you how happy I am that the bolts got done like that at Mile High!!! Thanks Big Ed!

  • Gary


    “NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that even if the replay system had been working during the first quarter yesterday, the interception by Denver’s Champ Bailey would not have been reversed.

    “The ruling on the field would not have changed,” Aiello wrote in an e-mail repsonse to several queries. “Replay could have determined only whether or not the pass was complete (but not who possessed it) … Replay cannot be used in this case to determine who had possession of the ball so the ruling on the field would have stood.”

    The play in question was a pass from Philip Rivers to Chris Chambers that both Chambers and Bailey appeared to have their hands on. But replays appeared to show that Chambers, by rule, had the ball in his right arm when his left elbow hit the ground. Bailey arose with the ball afterward, though, and ran to the end zone.

    After some consultation, the officials ruled that Bailey had intercepted the ball but was down by contact at the 29-yard line.

    Chargers coach Norv Turner challenged the call, but it was never reviewed. The replay was available in the booth upstairs but not on the field monitor. After waiting the required two minutes for the feed to be repaired, referee Ed Hochuli explained at the time that the play would stand.

    Aiello explained that there was an “issue” with the server (and backup server) that supplies the feed to the field monitor. The issue was fixed with about three minutes to play in the first half. Aiello said a technician from the company that makes the servers will go to Denver this week and that all replay technicians will receive a memo with guidelines for troubleshooting the particular problem should it arise again.

    Two local replay technicians are hired by the NFL to work each game. “