The Los Angeles Chargers won 19-16 over the divisional rival Denver Broncos in yet another close game. After overcoming a deficit of 10-0 in the first quarter, they rallied to take the game to overtime. However, the offense had multiple chances to close out the game and failed to, yet again showing the issues the team has in closing games.
Neither offenses could move the ball down the field and it was because of good defensive performances from both sides. There were a lot of bright spots in the win, let’s break down the winners and losers of the divisional battle.
Tranquill added yet another good game to an underrated season on defense. Tranquill filled almost every portion of the stat sheet with eight tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss, and three QB hits. He’s become a versatile defender and is having a breakout season so far.
Tranquill also had a big stop on third down to prevent the Broncos offense from moving further down the field, forcing a field goal. He was all over the field in the win, whether that be in the backfield or in coverage.
After all the hype this offseason, Palmer delivered this game, leading the team in receiving yards. Herbert found Palmer consistently in the passing game, as Williams was locked up.
After struggling with drop issues, the chemistry between him and Herbert looked much better. Most of his catches went for first downs and he drew a couple of major pass interference calls.
In one of the more interesting winners of the night, the Chargers drew many pass interference calls that helped on offense. The Broncos had 151 total penalty yards, their second most in a game ever.
The penalties certainly helped a Chargers offense that was struggling a bit, especially the big chunk pass interference plays.
Dustin Hopkins had a great performance on special teams, but it didn’t entirely show on the stat sheet. Hopkins made his extra point, then got a hamstring injury that kept him on the sideline on kickoffs afterward.
The broadcast kept cutting to him on the sideline, showing his hamstring in a sleeve as he warmed up. He then went on to kick 100% the rest of the night including a game-winning field goal in overtime. If that’s not clutch then I don’t know what is. You certainly have to hand it to him, as Chargers kickers haven’t been great in the same situation in the past.
Closing Out Games
Something has to be done with the Chargers ability to close out games. They’ve kept nearly all their games this year within a score and at times fail to close out games, which showed again Monday night.
The offense had a few tries to end the game in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get it going ultimately. The defense pulled the weight this game and to duel with the best in the AFC the offense has to step up.
Offensive Line And Run Game
These two go hand and hand, as there’s no run game without a good offensive line. After two great games against the Texans and Browns, the run game stalled against the Broncos with a total of 73 rushing yards all night. For context, Ekeler had 173 rushing yards against the Browns, and this was a pretty underwhelming performance.
Joshua Kelley exited early with an injury so it was up to Sony Michel to be the RB2, and he was decent. He put up a better yard per carry than Ekeler and did what he does best getting the short tough yards.
The offensive line as a whole was subpar, allowing 2 sacks and failed to protect Herbert consistently. The group is still recovering from a couple of injuries and is pretty patchwork, so they’re definitely missing Linsley and Slater.
Mike Williams struggled in the passing game all night as he was shadowed by Patrick Surtain II for a majority of his routes. Williams’ strength is winning at the catch point, but he struggles to get separation which is what many saw on Monday night.
Surtain locked him down and only allowed 1 catch for 4 yards all night. Williams’ time as the Chargers main receiver has been interesting, as it’s been either boom or bust. The offense definitely looked as if it missed Keenan Allen this game.
After a hefty contract given to him in free agency, Jackson hasn’t earned most of it. It’s tough to say whether his play is due to his ankle injury, bad scheme, or simply just bad performance. In every game this season, it seems as if he gives up a big play or draws a pass interference penalty.
The first touchdown of the night to Broncos TE Greg Dulcich looked to be a blown coverage from Jackson which was confirmed by Staley in the post-game interview. Jackson hasn’t been the corner that the Chargers signed him to be and is looking like a big beneficiary of Bill Belichick’s defensive scheme.