"As a defense, we just have to go out there and stop the run, stop them from getting second-and-short, third-and-short and get (quarterback) Philip Rivers off his spot where he wants to pass," defensive end Malik Jackson said, per The Denver Post.
Ryan Mathews was the workhorse that day, galloping for 127 yards on 29 carries. Philip Rivers has received all the praise -- deservedly so -- for his career renaissance, but Mathews merits credit for carrying the Chargers into Divisional Round Weekend.
Denver defenders know that if they allow the Chargers to run the ball, it minimizes the opportunities for quarterback Peyton Manning and the Broncos' offense. Defenders pointed to getting off the field on third down as crucial to success.
"They were like 50 percent (converting in Week 15), and that was the key,â linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. "Anytime you play a good running team, if you're not off the field on third down then they can just continue to keep running the ball and control the clock."
Peyton Manning can cover for many of the Broncos' defensive flaws, but he needs the ball to do it. If the Chargers spend Sunday running all over Denver's defense, we'll get to witness more of those classic Manning sideline faces.