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(Sunday, October 9th)
Final Score: San Diego 29, Denver 24
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Philip Rivers threw for 250 yards and a touchdown, as the San Diego Chargers narrowly escaped with a 29-24 win over the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos.
Ryan Mathews rushed for a career-high 125 yards on 24 carries and Nick Novak hit five field goals for the Chargers (4-1).
Tebow spelled a struggling Kyle Orton to start the second half and nearly completed a thrilling comeback, but his pass from the San Diego 29-yard line fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired.
"I didn't have much time to watch him (Tebow)," Rivers said. "I was more worried about us getting to 4-1."
In all, Tebow threw for 79 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 38 yards and a score. He completed 4-of-10 passes.
"I just go out there and play football, play to the best of my ability," Tebow said. "I just try to improve every day. The fans are great, Bronco fans, especially for their support. I try not to worry about that and get me up or down."
Broncos head coach John Fox wouldn't commit to who would be the starting quarterback for Denver's next contest, October 23 at Miami. If Tebow gets the call that game, he'd be starting in the same state where he played college ball at the University of Florida.
"I think Tim Tebow sparked the team today. We haven't had a chance to watch the tape. We haven't had the chance to visit as a staff. We have a bye week. We do need to improve offensively and it will all be up for discussion. We will evaluate it and make the best decision for the team," Fox said. "We're looking to have long-term success with somebody. Who that somebody is yet, I'm not sure."
Willis McGahee ran for 125 yards and Knowshon Moreno had a 28-yard touchdown reception for the Broncos (1-4).
Orton completed 6-of-13 passes for 34 yards and an interception.
"We weren't getting it done in the first half, so we decided to make the change prior to the half," Fox said. "We were able to talk about it and get it situated at halftime."
Tebow initially found the going difficult as well, as the Broncos were held scoreless in the third quarter.
Novak's career-long 51-yard field goal gave the Chargers a 26-10 lead early in the fourth, but Tebow -- the 25th overall pick in last year's draft -- sparked Denver behind his legs and trademark enthusiasm.
Following a San Diego punt, the Broncos scored a quick touchdown, as McGahee's 28-yard scamper preceded three consecutive Tebow runs -- the last of which resulted in a 12-yard score. McGahee converted the two-point conversion to make it a 26-18 game.
After a Rivers fumble, Tebow found Moreno on a screen three plays into the Broncos' ensuing drive for a 28-yard touchdown. But Antoine Cason knocked away Tebow's pass the two-point conversion attempt, effectively maintaining San Diego's 26-24 advantage.
Rivers did his best to keep the ball out of Tebow's hands, driving his team 60 yards down the field before Novak hit a 35-yarder for a 29-24 advantage. Early in the drive, Rivers found Malcolm Floyd for a 38-yard gain on 3rd-and-10.
Tebow was left with just 24 seconds to operate, but continued to scrap. He completed a 20-yard pass to a leaping Brandon Lloyd, then hit Daniel Fells for 31-yards before spiking the ball with one second remaining. He bought time on the final play, scrambling madly in the backfield before firing a bullet into the crowded end zone. It turned out to be a blank, but it appears the quarterback controversy in Denver has been reloaded.
The Chargers grabbed an early lead on Novak's 24-yard field goal.
Orton was intercepted by Donald Butler on the Broncos' next drive, but Rivers gave the ball right back, as Cassius Vaughn returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown to give Denver a 7-3 lead.
Novak and Matt Prater then traded field goals -- of 32 and 35 yards, respectively -- to make it 10-6 early in the second quarter. But the Chargers reeled off 17 unanswered points to head into the half with a 23-10 lead.
Rivers scored on a two-yard draw to put San Diego on top. After a Denver punt, Novak was good from 28 yards. The drive was extended on 3rd-and-6 due to an unnecessary roughness penalty on Rahim Moore.
Moments before halftime, Rivers hit Floyd down the left sideline for a 42- yard touchdown, extending the Chargers' advantage.
Novak is a perfect 11-for-11 on the season...The Chargers had given up an average of 16.6 points in their previous three wins. They have won nine of their last 11 meeting with the Broncos...Rivers is 9-2 as a starter against the Broncos...Chargers running back Mike Tolbert left with a concussion.
10/09 21:12:26 ET