Denver leads Chargers 10-3 after 1st quarter

PAT GRAHAM
Associated Press
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Denver Broncos wide receiver Andre Caldwell (12) catches a pass for a touchdown in front of San Diego Chargers cornerback Richard Marshall (31) in the first quarter of an NFL football game, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

DENVER (AP) — Peyton Manning threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Andre Caldwell, and Matt Prater kicked a 32-yard field goal, helping the Denver Broncos to a 10-3 lead over the San Diego Chargers after the first quarter Thursday night.

It was Manning's 46th TD pass of the season. He's four shy of tying the single-season record set by New England's Tom Brady in 2007.

San Diego won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half. And yet giving Manning the ball first didn't work out very well as he efficiently led the team on a seven-play drive that culminated with Caldwell's TD catch in the corner of the end zone. Manning was 4 of 5 for 56 yards on the drive.

Caldwell was stepping in for Wes Welker, who sat out after sustaining a concussion Sunday, his second in a month's span.

Manning & Co. had much milder conditions to deal with after beating Tennessee 51-28 last weekend in the snow and ice. The temperature hovered around 35 degrees and there was barely any wind.

Still, Manning wore gloves on both hands.

So did Philip Rivers, who guided the Chargers down the field on their first drive, only to have it stall out at the Broncos 20. Nick Novak connected on a 38-yard field goal.

Rivers threw for 28 yards in the opening quarter and needs 90 more for his fifth 4,000-yard season.

The Broncos were without two defensive starters in cornerback Champ Bailey (left foot) and defensive lineman Derek Wolfe (illness).

This game featured two of the NFL's most prolific offenses, along with two of the most deficient defenses.