The Denver Broncos are no strangers to slow starts. In their first five games, the Broncos had a minus-21 point differential in the first quarter. However, they were able to overcome those slow starts and come away with four victories.

On Thursday night, only one of those held true, as the Broncos were not able to bounce back, falling to the San Diego Chargers 21-13.

“It’s something we have to address for sure,” interim head coach Joe DeCamillis said after the loss. “It’s been pretty consistent and I think whatever we can do to try to get that corrected [it] will help us down the road.”

The Broncos’ slow start against the Chargers was about as bad as it could get. At the end of the first quarter, Denver trailed 7-0 and were dominated in every phase of the game. Through 15 minutes of action, the Broncos only had the ball for 2:22 and were getting out-gained 137 yards to 21 yards.

The disparity didn’t stop after the first quarter as the Chargers dominated the second quarter as well. With eight minutes left in the second quarter San Diego had more plays (29) than the Broncos had yards (26).

Still, the comeback was in play.

With 7:51 in the second quarter, after Denver recovered a muffed punt on San Diego’s 11-yard line, the Broncos ran three pass plays for a total of zero yards and settled for a field goal, their only points of the half.

Going into halftime, there was only one silver lining: The Broncos only trailed by seven at halftime.

Little changed immediately after halftime, though. With 6:22 left in the third quarter the Broncos’ drive chart looked like this:

Field goal

Trailing 19-3 with 129 yards of offense, the Broncos only had one thing going in their favor: the fourth quarter. In the Chargers’ first five games (1-4 record) they had a league-worst minus-32 point differential in the fourth quarter, while the Broncos had the league-best plus-49 point differential in the fourth-quarter.

Although the Broncos won the fourth quarter with a plus-eight point differential, it was not enough to overcome the poor three-quarter start. DeCamillis said there wasn’t one thing to attribute the slow starts to, but he believes when head coach Gary Kubiak comes back he will have some ideas.

“When Kube [Kubiak] comes back I’m sure he’s going to have a plan for [slow starts] and we’ve got to follow suit with that plan,” DeCamillis said. “It’s not just a player issue as far as getting the slow starts because obviously coaching for one we’re not getting them going fast enough. I wish I got them going faster tonight.”

Typically, the Broncos offense and defense needs a few drives to find their groove and make the appropriate adjustments, but on Thursday night the Broncos waited too long and got themselves in a hole they could not overcome.

“It was too little too late, too much to overcome,” quarterback Trevor Siemian said after the defeat.