Vance Joseph endures tense ending to win Broncos debutSeptember 12, 2017 11:47am

DENVER (AP) — Vance Joseph watched his team go from cruising along to a nearly colossal collapse over a nightmarish fourth quarter.

In the end, the newest Denver Broncos head coach was presented the game ball to go with all that unexpected late-game stress.

Joseph and the Broncos walked away a 24-21 winner over the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night when Shelby Harris sliced through and blocked kicker Younghoe Koo's 44-yard field goal attempt with a second left.

"It's a hard league," said Joseph, whose team led 24-7 heading into the final 11 minutes.

No arguments from Anthony Lynn, who also was making his head coaching debut for the Chargers. It marked the first time two black head coaches worked their first NFL game against each other.

This was more of the same for the Chargers, a team that had five losses by four points or less last season.

"There are some things we could've done better to help ourselves," Lynn said.

Philip Rivers caught fire in the fourth quarter and guided the Chargers into range for a game-tying field goal.

Koo nailed it — but Joseph called timeout just before he kicked. The rookie coach wanted to ice the rookie kicker.

Koo made good contact on the second attempt as well, but Harris was right there to block it with the right side of his hand.

"I'm going to be real with you: I have no clue what happened," Harris said. "I felt it. I just couldn't tell you where I felt it. It just happened."

The Broncos held Rivers and the Chargers offense to 115 total yards heading into the final quarter. But the Broncos didn't do themselves any favors with drives down the stretch ending like this: Interception (bounced off a defender's foot), fumble (Jamaal Charles), missed field goal (Brandon McManus, who just signed a new deal) and a punt.

That opened the doors for Rivers.

"We just waited too long to get started but then you could feel it," said Rivers, who threw for 132 of his 192 yards passing in the final 15 minutes. "You could feel it in the place."

Joseph kept his team focused by imploring them to remember it wasn't over. He was right.

"Everybody in the stands was getting ready to leave," Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. "We thought it was over and then the next thing you know it's a three-point game and they're getting ready to tie ... and it's about to go into overtime."

Harris' heroics saved the Broncos from blowing a 17-point fourth-quarter lead for just the second time in their history.

FOWLER'S TDS: Bennie Fowler doubled his career touchdown total with a pair of TD grabs, hauling in Trevor Siemian's passes from 5 and 6 yards out.

"It was amazing. It felt great to go out there and get two touchdowns. I had two touchdowns in my career coming into the game so it feels good. I'll continue to build on that," Fowler said.

Fowler was put on notice when the Broncos drafted wide receivers Carlos Henderson and Isaiah McKenzie, but he earned the job as Denver's No. 3 pass catcher behind Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.

"I've been on the same page with Trev now for three years. He's part of the reason I made the team as an undrafted rookie so I appreciate him," Fowler said.

TIGHT END TRIO: The Broncos got the most out of their tight ends, who combined for 98 yards receiving.

A.J. Derby had three catches for 34 yards, Virgil Green one for 44 and Jeff Heuerman two for 20.

"Awesome," Joseph said. "All three guys caught balls for (nearly) 100 yards. That's Mike McCoy's offense. Everyone gets an opportunity."

DUD OF A DUO: Antonio Gates is still tied with Tony Gonzalez for most touchdowns (111) in NFL history by a tight end. The Broncos limited him to two catches for 17 yards and held him out of the end zone. They also held Hunter Henry without a catch.

"We have to get those guys targets as coaches," Lynn said. "We have to do that. They were double-teaming Antonio, but we have to find those guys. We have to find those guys and dial up plays for them. They're too good of players not to get targeted, so that was on us."

REPEAT PERFORMANCE: This game was reminiscent of last season's opener, when the Broncos beat Carolina as Graham Gano missed a 50-yard field goal with 4 seconds left.

"That's how they're going to be — going to be like that all season," Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "We know we're a better team than we displayed in that third and fourth quarter. We'll fix that and be able to finish the game even better."


AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed.


AP NFL website: and

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Broncos' Siemian starting to make believers across the NFLDenver Broncos second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian is starting to make believers across the NFL
Chiefs' Kareem Hunt has clear request: 'Stop sleeping on me'Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt watched every team pass on him in the draft, many of them multiple times, and now wants them to pay
Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones (95) catches a deflected pass from Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz for a turnover in front of wide receiver Nelson Agholor (13) and offensive tackle Lane Johnson (65), during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Chiefs take over top spot in AP Pro32 poll; Falcons are 2nd
FILE - This is a 2017 file photo of Lawrence Timmons, of the Miami Dolphins NFL football team. Timmons has been suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins after he went AWOL on the eve of the team's season opener.  The Dolphins announced the move in a one-sentence news release Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, a day off for the team. Timmons' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said he had no immediate comment on the decision. (AP Photo/File)
Dolphins suspend Timmons and acquire Anthony as replacement
FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2016, file photo, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis points in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Detroit Lions, in Detroit. Coach Marvin Lewis is telling Bengals players that more changes are coming if they continue to lose, and the next job lost could be theirs. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson, File)
Lewis to winless Bengals: Next job lost will be yours
Ohio State: Dismiss ex-player's lawsuit over image useOhio State is asking a judge to throw out a lawsuit by one of its most famous football stars who alleges the university used ex-athletes' photos without permission and robbed them of compensation
This component is currently unavailable.

Related Searches

Related Searches