In one of the most controversial games of the season so far, the Denver Broncos defeated the San Diego Chargers by a score of 39 to 38. Despite 21 unanswered points from the Chargers in the 2nd half, the Broncos came back and pulled through in the final minute of the game.
Leading 31 to 30 with 5:41 left in the game, the Broncos drove the ball all the way to the Chargers 4-yard line. However, QB Jay Cutler threw the ball to Chargers CB Antoine Cason, who returned the ball to the San Diego 9-yard line. Three plays later, the Chargers scored when QB Philip Rivers threw a short pass to RB Darren Sproles, who took it 66 yards for the touchdown. The Chargers converted on their insuing two-point conversion to go up 38-31.
With 4:22 left in the game, Denver had the ball on their own 20 yards line. They managed to drive 79 yards to the San Diego 1-yard line in three minutes. Then, the contoversial play occurred. As Cutler was rolling to his right, he attempted to throw the ball, but it slipped out of his hands. The referees initially ruled it an incomplete pass, but it was reviewed upstairs. On the replay, it was evident that Cutler lost the ball before his arm was going forward, so it should have been a fumble. HOWEVER, referee Ed Hochuli declared that since the play was already whistled dead after the “fumble,” Denver retained possession of the ball, which was then placed at the 10-yard line. Two plays later, Cutler threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Royal.
And then, instead of going for the tie, Mike Shanahan decided to go for two. Jay Cutler once again found Eddie Royal in tight coverage for the successful conversion.
The Broncos held on for a controversial 39-38 victory. Jay Cutler finished the day completing 36 of 50 passes for 350 yards and four touchdowns, but threw the one interception to Antoine Cason. As for Rivers, he went 21-for-33 for 377 yards and three touchdowns, but threw one interception as well. Both teams gained 942 yards on offense.
Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall caught 18 passes in this game for 166 yards and a touchdown. The 18 receptions was the 2nd-highest number of receptions in a single game by a single receiver in NFL history (Terrell Owens once caught 20 passes in a game).