Broncos, Chargers make NFL history in the best and worst ways

Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Monday night, the Broncos headed into halftime trailing 24-0. Thanks to Peyton Manning's second-half brilliance and Philip Rivers absolutely imploding, Denver ended up with an unbelievable 35-24 win. Let's crunch some numbers.

I didn't watch Monday night's Broncos-Chargers game, but I will report that not watching it was pretty wild. I checked the score at halftime, saw that the Chargers were leading 24-0, and thought, "Hey, remember Frank Reich?" for about 1.4 seconds before turning to something else.


More: Broncos-Chargers highlights


Later, I checked the score and saw that in the second half, the Broncos hung 35 unanswered points on the Bolts and won. Over the last two quarters, Peyton Manning was brilliant, but I was most awestruck by how suddenly terrible Philip Rivers became. Here is how every second-half Chargers drive ended:

  • Philip Rivers fumbles.
  • Punt.
  • Philip Rivers throws interception.
  • Philip Rivers throws interception.
  • Philip Rivers throws interception (returned for touchdown).
  • Philip Rivers fumbles.

There's a lot to unpack here, certainly. In an effort to determine how special Monday night's game actually was, I tooled around with Pro-Football-Reference's Play Index. It looks like the Play Index counts a total of 12,453 games in NFL history. So let's start from there, and crunch some odds.

1 in 4,151

This is the third time in NFL history that a team was shut out in the first half, trailed by at least a 24-point margin, and came back to win. The other two games occurred in 1988 (Raiders 30, Broncos 27) and 1946 (Eagles 28, Redskins 24). Please note that neither of those winning teams were able to put up as many as 35 points.

1 in 1,556

This is the eighth time in NFL history, and first time in nine years, that a team has scored 35 or more points after being shut out in the first half. The Colts last achieved this in 2003 by scoring seven points in the third quarter, 28 in the fourth, and three in overtime to beat the Buccaneers, 38-35.

1 in 640

This is only the fourth time in the last 10 years that a team has committed six or more turnovers in a single game. But of those four, this is the only game in which the quarterback committed six turnovers all by himself (Rivers threw four picks and fumbled away the ball twice). Unfortunately, I couldn't find player-specific fumble statistics pre-2000, but I have to imagine this is quite rare.

1 in 10.2

Statistically speaking, this is not the worst game Philip Rivers has ever had. In fact, throughout his career, Rivers has suffered nine starts in which he finished with a worse quarterback rating. It is, however, the first four-interception game of his career.

1 in 853.3

Peyton Manning threw three second-half touchdowns and won after his team was shut out in the first half. This is only the third time in the last decade that this has happened. If we were to expand the results to include wins and losses, the list grows a lot larger -- likely because a lot of "garbage time" touchdowns were thrown.

Other notes of ... uh, note

With this game, Manning is now the all-time leader in career fourth-quarter comebacks with a total of 37.

The Chargers have not surrendered six or more turnovers in a game since 1999, but this is certainly not the franchise record. In 1978, the Bolts coughed up the ball to the Packers 11 times -- one shy of the all-time NFL record.

The AFC West, by and large, is just goddang dysfunctional and terrible as hell.

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