Chargers lead Broncos 24-14 after 3 quarters

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San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, front, leaps into the end zone for a touchdown as Denver Broncos strong safety Mike Adams defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi )

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Demaryius Thomas caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning and Tony Carter returned a fumble 65 yards for another score, leaving the Denver Broncos trailing the San Diego Chargers 24-14 after the third quarter on Monday night.

Manning bounced back from a critical second-quarter interception to direct a scoring drive on the Broncos' first possession after halftime. He hit Thomas for Denver's first TD of the game at 10:56, with Manning 6 for 6 for 83 yards on the drive that made it 24-7.

After committing two fumbles that led to first-quarter scores by the Chargers, Denver capitalized on a major San Diego mistake. At the Broncos 33, Philip Rivers was sacked for a 2-yard loss and fumbled. The ball got batted forward and Carter picked the ball up on the 35-yard line and returned it for a 24-14 lead, holding the ball up in his right hand as he ran for the end zone. The Chargers challenged the fumble call, but it was upheld after a video review.

Rivers was sacked on San Diego's ensuing possession, forcing the Chargers to punt.

Manning was 18 of 23 for 234 yards and one TD and one interception through three quarters; Rivers was 16 of 23 for 161 yards, two scores and one interception.

Quentin Jammer intercepted Manning and returned it 80 yards for his first career touchdown, and Antonio Gates scored his second TD 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 Eric Decker. But he tripped himself, got up and was tackled at the Chargers 30-yard line.

Manning clapped both hands to his helmet in disbelief, yet another sign of frustration from the star quarterback.

After Denver's 4-yard gain, Manning threw an incomplete pass and then his short pass intended for Matthew Willis was intercepted by Jammer at the San Diego 20. Jammer went 80 yards and just made it into the corner of the end zone with 6 minutes to play in the second quarter for his first TD in 11 years in the NFL. He has never lived up to expectations of a No. 5 draft pick.

With 24 seconds left before halftime, Rivers hit Gates with an 11-yard TD pass, making it 24-0. Gates had five catches for 68 yards in the half.

The Chargers racked up seven penalties for 55 yards in the first half.

The Chargers led 10-0 after a sloppy first quarter.

Gates caught a 15-yard touchdown from Rivers and Nick Novak kicked a 32-yard field goal for the Chargers, who were trying to take a two-game lead over Denver atop the AFC West heading into their bye week.

Two Denver fumbles led to both of San Diego's first two scores. Broncos wide receiver Trindon Holliday, claimed off waivers from Houston last week, dropped a punt to kill their second possession of the game. The Chargers recovered to set up Novak's field goal with about 9 minutes to play.

Rivers was under heavy pressure and made some errant throws early while San Diego's running game stalled. But another Broncos' miscue set up his TD pass to Gates.

Omar Bolden fumbled a kickoff return and the Chargers recovered, leaving Manning shaking his head. The Broncos are 0-2 on the road in Manning's first season since leaving Indianapolis.