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Published on 10/19/2009 at Mon Oct 19 12:12.
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The Broncos hope to turn the AFC West tide in San Diego Monday night. (Getty Images)

The Broncos hope to turn the AFC West tide in San Diego Monday night. (Getty Images)

November 19, 2006 is a day that has haunted the Broncos for three seasons.

On that fateful night, the 7-2 defending AFC West champion Broncos hosted the 7-2 eventual AFC West champion Chargers at INVESCO Field at Mile High.  The Chargers notched a 35-27 comeback win, engineered by first-year-starting quarterback Philip Rivers, and gained a firm grip on the division that they have yet to relinquish.

Jake Plummer, who fumbled the game away, was benched less than a week later.  Defensive coordinator Larry Coyer was fired following a 9-7 playoffs-less finish.

25 months later, Mike Shanahan still couldn’t figure out a way to effectively beat this Chargers team, losing 52-21 in an embarrassing winner-takes-the-division season finale that would be his final game as Broncos Head Coach.

Tonight is the Broncos’ chance to exorcise those demons. 

This game is nothing less than an opportunity to take back control of the AFC West.  With a win tonight, it’s true the Broncos would gain a 3 1/2 game-lead in the division.  But that’s just a number; the meaning behind it would be so much more.

Jake Plummer was benched after losing back-to-back games to the Chargers and Chiefs in 2006.  (SI photo)

Jake Plummer was benched after losing back-to-back games to the Chargers and Chiefs in 2006. (SI photo)

The big bad bullies of the division would be humbled.  The Chargers have won five of the last six games against the Broncos, and by an average of 25.0 points. And while the Broncos squeaked out a win in 2008 that looked to turn the tables in the division, they have never come close to beating the Chargers in San Diego.

Any few remaining critics would be silenced.  There has never been a 6-0 team in the NFL that hasn’t been “for real.”  In fact, since the division realignment, every one has gone on to win their division.

With that comes respect, but more importantly, self-respect, and the belief within the locker room that this team is capable of beating anybody.

And a team with that type of belief is the most dangerous type come January.

Finally, the Broncos would gain something through what the Chargers would lose. Those who cover and cheer for the Chargers speak of a metaphorical window closing on their postseason chances.  “How much longer will the window be open?”, they ask.  The 14-2 team that beat the Broncos in 2006 has yet to live up to those expectations.  Age, injuries, and free agency have begun to take their toll on a squad once chock-full of Pro Bowlers.

With a win, the Broncos could close San Diego’s window for good.

With a loss, the Broncos leave San Diego’s window open.

Close that window tonight, Denver.  Take back control, and your rightful place atop the AFC West. GO BRONCOS!

  • TD30isMVP

    This is at their “house” and a big rivalry game, a loss would not be out of the ordinary even for the “power house” teams of the league. Too much is being made of either a win or a loss here. I do not expect to go undefeated but with our first loss the “experts” will jump all over it and proclaim our doom. It's a long season folks, a win or loss does not make or break our season.

  • http://twitter.com/YourBroncosZone Broncos Zone

    I just have to quote that! “Close that window tonight, Denver. Take back control, and your rightful place atop the AFC West. GO BRONCOS!!!”

  • mikebirty

    I still have nightmares of Ekuban dropping into pass coverage against LT and giving up a Touchdown.

    Although being pedantic, I still think it was Peyton Manning's dismantling of the bend don't break defense that was more of a turning point.

    and I don't seem to be able to post a comment via my mobile :(

  • Andpark

    Wow. I am so nervous about this game I can hardly talk about it. Watching the games yesterday I know a few more things_
    1. Thank god the Saints are in the NFC, at this point you have to know they will be in the SB
    2. Giants now look beatable
    3. Eagles look very beatable and definitely miss Dawkins
    4. Ravens at home will be very tough but look beatable
    5. KC and OAK even with wins still stink
    6. Brady looked pissed off and I am happy we were the ones to piss him off
    7. Amazing to see all these first year coaches stuggle. Coaches that were in the conversation to be the Broncos HC. McD is really a special guy.
    8. I still really dis like all the Chargers but especially Rivers and Merriman

    I am getting a lot ahead of myself but man am I excited for tonight. Their D is so weak I can only hope McD put his emotions aside and got these guys prepared for tonight. To many holes, Buck is back, Marshall and Royal are back..

    Fingers crossed but I don't think it will even be close tonight. Broncos 27-13

  • http://www.broncoblogs.com/ Denver Broncos Blogs

    even if the Broncos won tonight, which I think they will. The Experts will still want to call the Broncos the Worst 6-0 team in history.

    With a win, I wonder if any of the experts would place a 1 loss team over the broncos in the power rankings? Otherwise I'm sure we'd be 4th across the board.

  • kellkel2

    I really hope the broncos win………….and I'm happy to be 6-0 worst uundefeated team is better than a defeated team! It is a looooonnnngggg season – after today we still have 2/3 of the season to go – so if we lose we need to keep our wits about us and bick up for the rest of the season….after our superbowl win we didn't go undefeated – yeah 13-0 but 14-2 is 14-2 no matter where the loses occur!

  • sportshandicapping

    the season has seen lot of ups and downs, but guess this one has to stick out like a sore finger for the broncos,
    regards, malone,
    sports handicappers

  • sportshandicapping

    the season has seen lot of ups and downs, but guess this one has to stick out like a sore finger for the broncos,
    regards, malone,
    sports handicappers