Squinting into the sun and fighting off a defender, Ashley Lelie made a fourth-down gamble pay off for the Denver Broncos, catching a momentum-shifting touchdown Sunday in a 23-13 win over the San Diego Chargers.
In a one-on-one showdown between 2002 first-round draft picks, the 6-foot-3 Lelie jumped over 6-foot cornerback Quentin Jammer to catch a 33-yard lob from Jake Plummer on fourth and nine.
It gave the Broncos (2-1) a 10-point lead late in the third quarter. Just as importantly, it stifled the momentum San Diego (1-2) gained moments earlier when the Chargers recovered Quentin Griffin's third lost fumble of the season and converted it into a touchdown to cut Denver's lead to 13-10.
The San Diego score turned an already slumbering Invesco Field into a library, and it got even quieter when the Broncos stalled at midfield on their next drive. San Diego's Kassim Osgood roughed the punter, however, and three plays later, Mike Shanahan opted against a field goal and called the play that resulted in Plummer hanging one high into the back, right corner of the sunsplashed end zone for Lelie. Pinned behind Jammer, Lelie fought him off, caught the ball and landed hard on the ground, his helmet coming off as he hit.
Plummer finished 25 of 36 with 294 yards and two touchdowns, including a 16-yarder to Rod Smith to open the scoring. Lelie, largely considered a disappointment his first two years in Denver, caught four passes for 67 yards and his first touchdown of the season.
LaDanian Tomlinson ran for 60 yards and still has yet to break the 100-yard mark in four games at Denver. Drew Brees threw for 121 yards as San Diego fell to 1-9 in Denver since 1995.