Los Angeles Chargers hand Denver Broncos first shutout loss since 1992

By Jay Paris, The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 22, 2017 at 9:42 PM
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CARSON, Calif -- The Chargers' Casey Hayward is new to Los Angeles, but he's learning fast. When he dressed for Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos, he saluted Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw by wearing his jersey.

"I said I was going to try and pitch me a Kershaw today," Hayward said. "I wanted to try and get a shutout."

The Chargers obliged, blanking the Denver Broncos 21-0 to win their third straight game on Sunday and their first at StubHub Center after relocating from San Diego. They lost their first three games at home.

"To come out with a zero on the board is wonderful," said defensive end Joey Bosa, who had two of the Chargers' five sacks.

Travis Benjamin had a 42-yard scoring reception and returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown to lead the Chargers.

"He had two big-time plays with big-time speed," teammate Keenen Allen said. "He's got crazy speed."

Philip Rivers added another touchdown pass to running back Austin Ekeler, but on this day, it was the Chargers' defense that hogged the spotlight.

"That was special," defensive tackle Brandon Mebane said. "Especially against a team like that."

Denver entered the game with the NFL's longest active scoring streak at 394 games. The Broncos had not been shut out since Nov. 22, 1992.

Denver, which has dropped three of its past four games, committed three turnovers as it was stifled by a stout Chargers defense. The Broncos (3-3) were dreadful on offense against the Chargers (3-4).

"We didn't do our job today and that's why the scoreboard looked the way it looked," said Jamaal Charles, who had 2 yards on four carries.

Benjamin's key catch came in the fourth quarter.

Denver, trailing by two scores, was faced with a fourth-and-6 at the Los Angeles 31 early in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Trevor Siemian was chased from the pocket and his ill-advised pass was intercepted by Hayward.

"Once they were up, they just played super safe and it's hard for us to be good at what we're good at," Denver linebacker Shaquil Barrett said. "We're good at getting turnovers and sacking the quarterback. So we can't do any of that if they're playing safe."

Rivers finished 15 of 26 for 183 yards and two touchdowns as he recorded his 100th career win.

Siemian completed 25 of 35 passes for 207 yards and an interception.

Rivers found rookie Ekeler on a 1-yard scoring pass for a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Ekeler took a quick swing pass to Rivers' left out of the backfield and entered the end zone untouched.

It was Ekeler's first touchdown reception and the fifth on a completion to a running back this season for Los Angeles. Melvin Gordon has the other four.

Rivers had two 19-yard receptions on the scoring drive, one to tight end Hunter Henry and the second to Allen, which set up Ekeler's score.

Benjamin, who struggled as a returner last season, brought the game's initial punt back 65 yards for a touchdown. After fielding the punt on a bounce, Benjamin zig-zagged twice and went in easily as the Chargers took a 7-0 lead in the opening quarter.

Los Angeles squandered a prime scoring opportunity on the previous series, having a fresh series at the Denver 1 when linebacker Jatavis Brown recovered a fumble after safety Adrian Phillips poked the ball away from Broncos tight end A.J. Derby. But Gordon was stymied on four straight running plays at the goal line.

"The game, well we obviously got some issues," Von Miller said. "You can't lose two straight and not have issues so need to address those from the top down. We got to get turnovers and we're not getting any of them and creating short fields for the offense.

"It's tough when you don't put up any points. It's terrible. But we're not going to point fingers. We could have bailed them (the offense) out, but we are just not doing it."

NOTES: Broncos LB Von Miller recorded a sack in his fifth straight game (he had two), two off his career high. He has 79.5 sacks, eclipsing LB Karl Mecklenburg for No. 2 on the team's all-time list. ... WR Emmanuel Sanders (ankle) was inactive. ... Chargers RG Matt Slauson suffered a biceps injury. ... RT Joe Barksdale (toe) was inactive and replaced by Michael Schofield. ... DT Corey Liuget (back) was out. ... LT Russell Okung, who was among NFL players to meet with NFL executives on Tuesday, raised his right fist during the national anthem.

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