Rivers, Chargers lose 22-10 to Manning, Broncos as offensive malaise continues

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Chargers are struggling on offense. If they keep playing this way, they will fall short of the playoffs.

Philip Rivers threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates in the fourth quarter for San Diego's only touchdown in a 22-10 loss to Denver on Sunday. Peyton Manning played through a thigh injury and flu-like symptoms and Connor Barth kicked five field goals, sending the Broncos to their fourth straight AFC West title.

The Chargers have scored just two offensive touchdowns in their last two games. They were shut out in the second half of a 23-14 loss to New England last Sunday.

"We've scored two touchdowns now in eight quarters. You're probably not going to win either of those games," Rivers said.

Rivers completed 24 of 41 passes for 232 yards with two interceptions.

Asked about the passing game struggles, he said: "If you saw a lot more guys open, let me know."

The Chargers (8-6) began the day as the AFC's No. 6 seed and saw their wild-card chances diminished.

"It's just a two-game streak against the two top teams in the conference," Rivers said. "We're not in their company yet. It's not like we've lost to the bottom of the barrel."

Manning was sick coming into the game and then came out late in the second quarter with a thigh injury he said he got while scrambling on a passing play.

He returned for the start of the third quarter and on Denver's second possession threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas to give the Broncos a 16-3 lead.

The Broncos (11-3) won their fourth straight game and are tied with New England for the AFC's best record. New England beat the Broncos 43-21 on Nov. 2.

Denver's 12th straight division road win tied San Francisco's NFL record set from 1987-90.

Manning completed 14 of 20 passes for 233 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

San Diego pulled within six on Gates' TD with 10:13 left. Gates joined Rob Gronkowski as the only tight ends in NFL history with four seasons with at least 10 touchdown catches.

Then Manning led the Broncos on a drive capped by Barth's 49-yard field goal with 4:53 to play. After Aqib Talib intercepted Rivers, Barth kicked a 44-yarder to give the Broncos a 12-point lead.

Barth also kicked three field goals in the first half, lifting Denver to a 9-0 lead when he connected from 19 yards out with 1:50 to go. His third field goal came after Denver had a touchdown wiped out by a replay review.

On third-and-goal from the San Diego 1, C.J. Anderson started right but then cut back. Manning stepped up and blocked inside linebacker Donald Butler. Officials initially ruled Anderson scored, but the review showed his knee was down.

Manning headed to the locker room. Butler was spun around on Manning's block and injured an elbow.

The Broncos forced the Chargers to punt, and Manning's backup, Brock Osweiler, trotted out. After an incompletion on first down, Osweiler was whistled for intentional grounding after being pressured by Dwight Freeney.

Denver punted and a 58-yard return by Eddie Royal, a former Broncos player, helped set up Nick Novak's 30-yard field goal.

The Broncos got inside the Chargers 10 on consecutive drives in the first half but had to settle for field goals each time.

Novak had a 46-yard attempt blocked by Derek Wolfe.

Thomas had six catches for 123 yards and Anderson ran 29 times for 85 yards.

Rahim Moore intercepted Rivers in the end zone and returned it to the 14 with 1:53 left in the game.

"It was much like last week as our defense did a heck of a job," Rivers said. "They held them to one touchdown and five field goals and you ought to win."


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