3 Takeaways: Broncos get first win over the Chargers 20-13

Oct 6, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker A.J. Johnson (45) celebrates intercepting a Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (not pictured) pass in the end zone with teamates free safety Justin Simmons (31) and defensive back Kareem Jackson (22) at Dignity Health Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to breathe a sigh of relief for the city of Denver and especially for the Broncos. They got their first win of the season, but not without some late drama.

After jumping out to a 17-0 lead in the first half, the Broncos had every opportunity to put the game away but let the Chargers back into it with a TD on a Chargers’ punt return touchdown followed by a field goal. However, when it mattered most, the players and coaches executed the game plan to perfection and iced it with a Brandon McManus field goal to extend the lead out to 10 and finally win their first game 20-13 over the Los Angeles Chargers. Here are three takeaways for Vic Fangio’s first victory as a head coach.

  1. Youth powering the offense

For the second week in a row, the offense had a fast start to the day with 14 points in the first quarter. Both touchdowns were scored by second-year players with a 4-yard TD run by running back Phillip Lindsay and a 70-yard TD catch by wide receiver Courtland Sutton. Despite the fact that once again, the offense looked anemic after halftime, Lindsay’s 13-yard run on a 3rd and 14 gave McManus the opportunity to seal the win.

The Broncos had 350 yards of total offense and second-year players Sutton, Lindsay, and Royce Freeman combined for 306 yards of them. With the combination of increasingly great play calling by offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello and the future is looking bright for this Broncos’ offense for years to come.

  1. Defense gets its first turnover plus a couple of more

It may be cliché, but when a defense forces turnovers, they come in bunches.

After not forcing a single turnover in four games, Fangio’s unit forced three turnovers with two interceptions and one fumble. Despite having zero sacks, this may have been the best showing of the defense all year.

Fangio did a great job of dialing up pressure in different ways by sending multiple four, five, and even more man blitzes. Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers was under duress throughout the game and Melvin Gordon was contained for just 31 yards on 12 carries. The most important showing by this defense was when the offense struggled to put the game away, they stood strong and held the Chargers at bay. They didn’t concede a touchdown the whole game as the lone trip to the end zone was on a punt return.

Hopefully, this performance can create some much-needed momentum to string together a couple of wins.

  1. Alexander Johnson needs to start the rest of the season

Filling in for an injured Josey Jewell, Johnson opened some eyes as he was all over the field affecting both the run and the passing game. He had a key interception in the end zone in the second quarter and could have had another in the second half. He also added nine total tackles with six of them being solo and one tackle for loss.

For a team that desperately needs playmaking ability from the inside linebacker position, Johnson seems to fill that box with his speed, instinct and nose for the football. It’s perplexing that he hasn’t seen the field prior to this game, but it’s better late than never.

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