Rookie Ryan Mathews rushed for 120 yards and three touchdowns as the visiting San Diego Chargers finished up a disappointing season with a 33-28 victory over the rival Denver Broncos on Sunday.
Philip Rivers completed 21 of 37 passes for 313 yards and Nate Kaeding connected on four field goals for the Chargers (9-7), who squandered their shot at a playoff spot last week in a loss to the lowly Cincinnati Bengals.
Tim Tebow got the Broncos on the board first when he hit Brandon Lloyd with a 14-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter. But the second quarter belonged to San Diego, as Mathews broke free for a 27-yard score and Kaeding kicked three field goals of over 40 yards to make it 16-7 at the break.
The Chargers picked off Tebow on the first possession after the half and turned it into seven points on Mathews’ second touchdown of the game five plays later. His third touchdown with 7:55 left in the game pushed it to 33-14.
Denver (4-12) got that score right back when Cassius Vaughn returned the ensuing kickoff back 97 yards for a touchdown, and made it a one-score game when Tebow rushed for a score with 26 seconds left.
The Broncos recovered the onside kick but did not have time to get to the end zone again.
Tebow was 16 of 36 for 205 yards with two scoring passes and two interceptions. He also rushed for 94 yards and a TD.