Denver's much-maligned offensive line plays big in 23-22 win over Chargers

The Broncos' offensive line has had its struggles but the unit didn't allow a sack against Los Angeles on Sunday

Overshadowed in Denver’s thrilling 23-22 comeback victory Sunday was the play of the battered offensive line. The Broncos replaced two guys that had started the previous game and they were going against a strong Los Angeles Chargers defensive line.

Despite the shuffling of personnel, Denver didn’t allow a sack Sunday and was instrumental in allowing quarterback Case Keenum to drive the team downfield for the game-winning field goal on the last play of the game.

“The entire line, no sacks all day with those rushers was impressive, and we have three new starters inside,” head coach Vance Joseph said.

The Broncos lost two stalwarts on the offensive line – center Matt Paradis, who suffered a broken leg and torn ligaments against Houston before the bye week and guard Max Garcia tore his ACL during practice last week. Connor McGovern started at center and Eli Wilkinson took Garcia’s guard spot.

Even with the quick turnover the Broncos didn’t allow any tackles for loss against Los Angeles.

Joseph was particularly pleased with the play of second-year tackle Garrett Bolles. Bolles has struggled with penalties this season but he didn’t draw one against the Chargers.

“After watching the game, I thought Bollesy played one of his best games from a technique perspective,” Joseph said. “To block those two rushers with no penalties is quite an accomplishment for him.”

The banged-up unit started four tackles and a center but still was in sync.

“We’re athletic and we’re fast. That’s what it is,” Bolles said. “You put a tackle on an inside three, it messes them up because we’re quick and fast and agile. Billy (Turner) did a phenomenal job of having presence there and helping out Connor. Having a presence on me and coming in for the hit. Same as Elijah, he had help for Jared (Veldheer). That’s just how we are. Us three guys inside and two guys outside we’re family and that’s just how it’s going to be.”

DYNAMIC DUO: Denver’s rookie running backs continue to impress. Both scored a rushing touchdown Sunday – Phillip Lindsay on a 41-yard run off a wildcat formation and Royce Freeman scored on a 3-yard run to get the Broncos within 19-14 in the third quarter.

Lindsay finished with 79 yards on 11 carries and also caught four passes for 27 yards. Freeman, who was returning from a high ankle sprain that cost him two games, had 23 yards rushing and a catch for seven yards.

Lindsay’s 670 yards rushing is eighth in the NFL and second among rookies to Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants.

“He’s growing before our eyes,” Joseph told reporters after Sunday’s game. “He’s an NFL first-, second-, third-down back. It’s amazing with his size, what he can do on all three downs — catching the ball, protecting, running through, running in the A, B and C-gap.”

SHORT YARDAGE: LB Von Miller’s sack in the second quarter gave him 100 for his career, including postseason. He is the fifth fastest player to reach that among players who started their careers after 1982. … WR DaeSean Hamilton left the game with a knee injury but Joseph said he was fine. … CB Bradley Roby is in the concussion protocol after getting hurt Sunday.

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