38 - 39 Final
  for this game

Broncos stun Chargers on gutsy late call

Sep 15, 2008 - 2:09 AM By Tony Desiere PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

DENVER (Ticker) -- After watching a game in which the teams combined for nearly 1,000 yards of offense, Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan wanted no part of overtime.

Jay Cutler completed a two-point conversion pass to Eddie Royal with 24 seconds remaining to complete the Broncos' comeback.

Denver (2-0) became only the third team to win on a game on a two-point conversion in the final minute while San Diego (0-2) suffered a second straight heart-breaking loss.

"You just got a gut sometimes," Shanahan said. "I didn't want them to catch us on the coin flip. I wanted to do it then, and obviously it worked out."

The gamble came after the Broncos benefited from a favorable ruling that left the Chargers shaking their heads.

Three plays earlier, Cutler fumbled when the ball slipped out of his hands and was recovered by San Diego at the 10-yard line. But the officials ruled the play dead after an inadvertent whistle and gave the ball back to Denver.

On fourth down, Cutler tossed a 4-yard TD pass to Royal to bring the Broncos within 38-37.

"It was clearly a fumble," said San Diego coach Norv Turner, whose team suffered a 26-24 loss to Carolina last week when Jake Delhomme tossed a 14-yard TD pass on the final play of the game.

"Ed (Hochuli), the official, came over to me and said he blew the whistle, and that is not acceptable to me. This is a high-level performance sport and it is not acceptable to have the refs decide it on that play."

Hochuli said the ruling on the field was an incomplete pass and that the replays rules in that instance do not allow the referees to award the ball to the other team.

"All we can do to fix it is put the ball at the spot that it hit the ground, which is why we moved it back to the 10-yard line and the down counts and it becomes third down," he said

Brandon Marshall set a Broncos' franchise record with 18 pass receptions , but he almost was overshadowed by San Diego's Darren Sproles, who scored two long touchdowns.

Last season, the Chargers swept the Broncos by a combined score of 64-6. In a 23-3 loss at San Diego in December, the Broncos were taunted by San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers. Sunday was payback.

"All of my goals are to break all the records," Marshall said. "I'm out here to play to win, and for me it was personal in this game because it was the San Diego Chargers."

Sproles tied a franchise record with a 103-yard kickoff return in the second quarter and caught a 66-yard touchdown pass from Rivers with 4:36 remaining in the contest to give San Diego (0-2) a 38-31

"Offensively, we put up 38 points," said Rivers. "Our goal as an offense is to score one more point than the other team and this was the second straight week that we didn't do it. If they score 39, we need to score 40. We had our chances and didn't do it."

Cutler was 36-for-50 for 350 yards and four touchdowns, with tight end Tony Scheffler catching two scoring passes for Denver.

"The coaches got us into the right position and we made the adjustments to get into position," Scheffler said. "This meant a lot because it was the first win over San Diego for the 2006 draft class."

Rivers finished 21-of-33 for 377 yards with three touchdowns, including two to Chris Chambers.

LaDainian Tomlinson, who was limited in practice all week with a toe injury, carried the ball 10 times for only 26 yards. Sproles picked up the slack with 53 yards on the ground and 72 yards receiving.

"It was tough," Tomlinson said. "It was something I had to fight though. Having Darren there was huge, both offense and special teams. He did a great job for us."

The game was an offensive display for both teams. Denver finished the game with 486 yards and the Chargers 456.

After an early punt, the Broncos scored four touchdowns and a field goal on their next five possessions to open a 31-17 halftime lead. They led, 21-3, early in the second quarter.