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Manning's 3 TD passes spur Broncos' comeback

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Manning's 3 TD passes spur Broncos' comeback

SAN DIEGO (AP) Down 24-0 at halftime, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos reveled after one of the biggest comebacks in NFL regular-season history.

On the flip side, the San Diego Chargers were saddled with an enormous collapse.

Manning threw three touchdown passes in the second half and Tony Carter and Chris Harris scored off turnovers by Philip Rivers as the Broncos overcame a 24-0 halftime deficit to shock the Chargers 35-24 on Monday night.

Asked if he'd ever been a part of such a big comeback, Carter replied: ``Only in Pop Warner football.''

It took a quarterback of Manning's caliber to pull this one out.

``It sure was special considering what was on the line,'' said Manning, a Super Bowl winner and four-time NFL MVP who's in his first season with the Broncos.

Manning was 13 of 14 for 167 yards in the second half for the Broncos (3-3) who tied the Chargers (3-3) atop the AFC West.

It tied for the fourth-biggest regular-season comeback in NFL history.

Manning had been 1-5 in his last six games against San Diego, all with Indianapolis.

Rivers was intercepted four times - three in the fourth quarter - and lost two fumbles. The four pickoffs and six turnovers were both career highs.

A week earlier, the Chargers blew a 10-point lead in the third quarter in a 31-24 loss at New Orleans.

``When you lose it's rough, especially in a game where you had a big lead and so much at stake,'' Rivers said.

``It's bad,'' San Diego linebacker Takeo Spikes said. ``Every adjective you can come up with as far as disappointment, it covers it.''

The Broncos seemed finished after an awful first half in which Manning served up an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown by Quentin Jammer and two special teams fumbles led to 10 points for the Chargers.

``I thought we had a good plan. It was so disappointing to have these special team mistakes,'' Manning said.

Manning began the comeback when he hit Demaryius Thomas on a 29-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive of the second half.

On the ensuing San Diego possession, Elvis Dumervil stripped the ball from Rivers and Carter ran 65 yards for a touchdown, holding up the ball in celebration as he approached the end zone.

Denver then sacked Rivers to force a punt and Manning capped the next drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker to pull to 24-21.

Manning's 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley gave Denver its first lead of the game, 28-24 with 9:03 left. Stokley outleaped defensive back Marcus Gilchrist to catch the ball, and then got both feet down before tumbling out of the end zone.

That score was set up by Carter's interception.

Harris sealed the victory with a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown with 2:05 left. It was his second pick of the game.

``This was as good a second half of football as I've been involved in,'' Broncos coach John Fox said.

As for Manning, ``He's real high on my list,'' the coach said. ``He performed very well and has performed well in the last four games. He's going to keep getting better and better.''

Manning finished 24 of 30 for 309 yards with one interception.

``Regular-season game, I think this is the best,'' said Stokley, who was a teammate of Manning's with the Colts. ``The second half was unbelievable. We needed to win big-time and to perform like he did, it was awesome.''

Fox said there ``were no mystery words of wisdom at halftime. ``Given how poorly we played in the first half, we just said we could play better in the second half and we broke out of it.''

Manning agreed.

``We came out in the second half, everybody was accountable and professional,'' he said. ``We had 30 minutes and I thought it was important to get off to a good start with that first drive. Hitting DT for the touchdown really set the tempo for the second half.''

Both teams head into their bye week.

``We feel fortunate to be tied for first place in our division at 3-3,'' Manning said. ``It's going to be a competitive division down the stretch. There are some things we can improve on and we'll use the bye week to do that.''

Jammer intercepted Manning and returned it 80 yards for his first career touchdown, and Antonio Gates caught his second TD pass of the game in the second quarter, extending the Chargers' lead to 24-0.

Before Jammer's TD, the Broncos appeared on their way to their first score of the game with Manning's 55-yard pass to a wide-open Decker. But Decker tripped himself at the Chargers' 40, got up and was tackled at the 30-yard line.

Manning clapped both hands to his helmet in disbelief, one of several times the star quarterback expressed frustration.

``A piece of grass made a nice tackle,'' Manning joked. ``Those kind of plays happen. You do kind of wonder, is this not meant to happen? Obviously Decker was sick about it.

``It's about playing 60 minutes. There's no quit in this team,'' Manning said.

Three plays later, Manning threw a pass straight to Jammer. Manning made a weak effort at a tackle as Jammer went speeding by.

Rivers was 25 of 41 for 242 yards.

``Right now we're not able to put together a complete game,'' San Diego coach Norv Turner said.

NOTES: The Chargers' 24-0 halftime lead was their largest since taking a 28-0 halftime lead against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 20, 1987. The Bolts held on to win that game, 28-24. ... Gates had TD catches of 15 and 11 yards and Nick Novak kicked a 32-yard field goal for San Diego in the first half. ... Decker had six catches for 98 yards, while Gates had six catches for 81 yards.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler