Oct 17, 2022 The Los Angeles Times’ Lindsey Thiry Close LINDSEY THIRY ESPN covered the Rams for two years. Before, I wrote about the Falcons has written about college football, basketball, and the NBA Legwold, Jeff Close JEFF LEGWOLD, Senior Writer for ESPN covered the Broncos for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News for nine years. previously discussed Titans, Bills, and Steelers Since 1999, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors Los Angeles, California — After two outstanding plays by the Los Angeles Chargers’ special teams unit, a unit with a checkered past, the sideline exploded in celebration.
The Bolts recovered a fumbled punt on the Denver Broncos’ 28-yard line with 4:58 left in OT. A 39-yard field goal by kicker Dustin Hopkins, who was battling a right hamstring injury, gave the Chargers a 19-16 victory at SoFi Stadium four plays later.
The victory raises the Bolts’ record to 4-2 and keeps them in the midst of the AFC West competition while demonstrating their ability to win big.
When Cleveland Browns kicker Cade York missed a potential game-winning 54-yard field goal last Sunday, the Chargers were given the victory.
The Chargers proved on Monday Night Football that they could win on their terms.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback breakdown: Justin Herbert and the offense found it difficult to get going against a quick and physical defense. With an interception, Herbert completed 37 of 57 passes for 238 yards.
Through the end of regulation, Herbert’s completion average was 2.2 air yards, which is less than his previous career low of 2.7.
Wide receiver Mike Williams, who finished with two catches for 17 yards, including a crucial 9-yard reception in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal, was virtually eliminated by cornerback Pat Surtain II.
Austin Ekeler ran for a touchdown for the Bolts to make it 10-7 in the first quarter on Herbert’s only scoring drive, which he put together over the course of seven plays and 84 yards.
Gerald Everett was the target of a throw that Herbert intercepted in the fourth quarter on a first-and-10 play from his own 17-yard line, his second interception of the year.
Despite playing with a cracked rib cartilage, Herbert, who was fired twice, stated earlier this week, “I think it’s getting better.” Time, in my opinion, is the best aid.
Concerning trend: Despite receiving a five-year, $82.5 million contract as a free agent, cornerback J.C. Jackson isn’t performing up to par.
Jackson was forced to watch as tight end Greg Dulcich raced by for a 39-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter to give the Broncos a 10-0 lead due to an apparent missed assignment. Jackson, a fifth-year player, spent four seasons in New England, where he since 2018 has led the NFL in interceptions (25) and played four seasons.
It’s unclear exactly what has contributed to Jackson’s sluggish start to the season—whether it’s adjusting to a new offensive scheme or recovering from ankle surgery—as he waits for his first pick as a Charger.
Buy on a breakout performance: Edge rusher Khalil Mack is demonstrating in his ninth NFL season that he still has plenty left in the tank after missing the majority of the 2021 season due to ankle surgery.
Mack admitted before Monday night’s game that running after Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson is not fun, but he continued to provide pressure, once sacking Wilson and also intercepting a pass.
With six sacks, Mack is tied for second in the NFL with six other players. Wilson was sacked four times by the Chargers. Lindsay Thiry
Herbert completed 57 passes for a passer rating of zero on Monday. It happened again this year when a player completed at least 57 throws without scoring a touchdown (Kyler Murray).
vs. Seahawks is the next game (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)
COLORADO BRONCOS Improve the Denver Broncos’ miserable record in the AFC West, especially on the road in the division, was one of Denver Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett’s top priorities when he joined the job.
The Broncos entered SoFi Stadium on Monday night with a 2-11 record in their previous 13 divisional games dating back to the start of the 2020 season, a 0-7 road record, and an earlier loss in Las Vegas this season. Add another to the increasing list as their offense once more shut it down in the second half, and rookie Montrell Washington fumbled a punt with 4 minutes, 46 seconds left in overtime, losing the game 19-16 to the Los Angeles Chargers.
For the Broncos, who had a 10-0 lead in the first quarter until their still-struggling offense basically called it a night, everything had a ring of familiarity. The Broncos had only 19 yards of offense in the third quarter, which resulted in another shutout for a team that had only scored five points in the third quarter this season—two of those coming on a safety by the defense earlier in the year.
To keep Russell Wilson out of sync for a large portion of the second half, the Chargers simply pushed back against a wounded Broncos offensive line — left tackle Garett Bolles will miss the remainder of the season after breaking his right fibula in the defeat to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Denver defense put up enough of a fight to force overtime, but the offensive work the Broncos claimed to have done in the 11 days between their loss to the Colts on Thursday night and their loss to the Chargers on Monday most certainly did not bear fruit.
Unsettling pattern: Damarri Mathis, a rookie cornerback, got a glimpse of what the rest of the season might hold for him. On the opening play from scrimmage of the game, Mathis was targeted by Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and was penalized for pass interference. Mathis is in the lineup as a result of Ronald Darby’s season-ending knee injury.
Mathis committed four pass interference penalties throughout the game, three of which resulted in 81 yards in the first half alone. Every time Herbert encountered even a mildly stressful circumstance, he passed the ball Mathis’ way. The rookie had better adjust to it and react since any potential opponents of the Broncos will start to think they can replicate what the Chargers accomplished on Monday night as soon as they saw it.
With a crucial fourth-down pass breakup to start the fourth quarter, Mathis displayed some resiliency, but the play was just another sign that he won’t have a smooth ride in the weeks to come.
The biggest flaw in the game plan is that Hackett has talked extensively about the value of the run game to the team’s attack since taking the job.
And while the squad continues to struggle as it climbs the learning curve, its run game is at best decorative when it has the ball. The Broncos’ game plan will undoubtedly be affected by the season-ending injury Javonte Williams sustained in the defeat to the Raiders, but they only ran the ball seven times against the Chargers in the first half, and one of those times was a scramble by Wilson.
Due to this, the Broncos have occasionally had brief drives where they waste just over a minute on an unfortunate three-and-out before bringing their defense out onto the field. Additionally, the team’s ongoing difficulties on first downs — Denver faced second-and-18, second-and-12, and second-and-9 in the first half alone — have kept the Broncos from relying more heavily on their run game.
All you need to watch is how Wilson was in the shotgun on third-and-1 on their opening drive of overtime and fired an incomplete ball despite being heavily pressured by a Chargers pass rush and having little time to slow down.
Wilson completed his first 10 pass attempts on Monday night, and overall, he appeared much more at ease. However, Wilson only completed three of his next 11 throws due to a lack of play-action in the Broncos’ system, as well as an ongoing miscommunication with wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.
Greg Dulcich, a rookie tight end, scored his first touchdown after he completed passes to nine different receivers. Wilson was improved in the first half on Monday, but there is still much to be done due to the first-down problems that keep upsetting the flow of events. Jeffrey Legwold
Unappreciated fact: Wilson started the game by successfully completing his first nine passes to nine different receivers. Since 1978, no quarterback has reportedly started a game 9-for-9 to nine separate players, according to Elias.
against. Jets is the next game (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)