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On This Date in Sports November 17, 1985: Block Party

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Denver Broncos beat the San Diego Chargers 30-24 in overtime at Mile High Stadium. The Chargers lined up to win the game on a 40-yard field goal by Bob Thomas. The Broncos blocked the field goal, but timeout was called by Denver coach Dan Reeves, giving San Diego and Thomas another try. Once again, the field goal was blocked by Dennis Smith, with Louis Wright picking up the ball and racing 60 yards for a game-winning touchdown for the Broncos. The Broncos blocked three field goals during the game, while the Chargers blocked one while losing a thrilling back-and-forth battle. 

The Broncos were a team on the rise under coach Dan Reeves, as they won the AFC West in 1984, which was John Elway's second season. Battling the Los Angeles Raiders in 1985, the Broncos were 7-3 as they prepared to host the San Diego Chargers. Coached by Don Coryell,  the Chargers were a team on the decline. The Chargers, with Dan Fouts, had played in two AFC Championship Games at the start of the decade but were fading by 1985, missing the playoffs in 1983 and 1984. At 5-5, their playoff hopes were dwindling as they went into Denver. Two weeks earlier, the Chargers crushed the Broncos in San Diego 30-10; then they upset the Raiders in overtime 40-34 to get back to .500.

The game got off to a big start for the Chargers as Gary Anderson returned the opening kick 98 yards for a touchdown. After a three-and-out by the Broncos, San Diego drove down to the 30-yard line, but Bob Thomas had a field goal blocked, sparking the Broncos to life. The Broncos struggled again on offense, and the Chargers continued to control the game until Louis Wright picked off Dan Fouts and took away the game's momentum. The Broncos would score on the ensuing possession, tying the game 7-7 as Steve Watson caught a four-yard pass from John Elway. 

Dan Fouts would throw a second interception in the second quarter, but the Broncos could not capitalize as Miles McPherson picked off Elway and returned the ball to the Denver 12. Dan Fouts would connect with Lionel James on a six-yard touchdown pass that gave San Diego a 14-7 lead at the half. The Chargers had a chance to extend the lead, but Bob Thomas hit the upright on a 41-yard try as the first half ended. 

After a scoreless third quarter, the Broncos, who were dominated, finally got the ball moving in the fourth quarter, only to see bare-footed kicker Rich Karlis miss a 28-yard field goal. Two plays later, the Broncos got a much-needed break as Gary Anderson fumbled, setting up a two-yard touchdown run by Gene Lang that tied the game. On the ensuing possession, Dan Fouts fumbled a snap, setting up a second touchdown by Lang that gave the Broncos a 21-14 lead. 

The Chargers hoping to regain control of the game, drove down the field, with Bob Thomas hitting a 36-yard field goal. With time running down, Wayne Davis blocked a punt to set up a two-yard touchdown by Tim Spence that put the Chargers back in front 24-21. With 69 seconds left, John Elway was able to get the ball down the field and set up a 34-yard field goal by John Elway that forced overtime. Elway 261 yards, completing 28 of 50 passes while throwing one touchdown pass and getting picked off twice. 

The Chargers won the coin toss in overtime and drove down the field. Dan Fouts passed for 245 yards while completing 23 of 45 passes. Like Elway, Fouts had one touchdown and two interceptions, as had San Diego in a position to win the game. Bob Thomas' 40-yard field goal was blocked, but a whistle blew as Dan Reeves called timeout to ice the kicker. On his second attempt, Thomas was blocked again, with Louis Wright scooping up the ball and scoring to give the Broncos a 30-24 win.

The Broncos improved to 8-3 with the win and would face the Raiders with first place on the line in two of their next three games. The Broncos would lose both games in overtime and missed the playoffs despite finishing 11-5. The Chargers, meanwhile, finished at 8-8, missing the playoffs for the third straight season.