Late INT Seals Chargers Fate Against Broncos: By The Numbers
The Los Angeles Chargers struggled to make plays during crunch time, dropping a crucial AFC West showdown against the Denver Broncos. Ill-timed turnovers and the inefficient third-down defense allowed the Broncos to slowly bleed the life out of the Bolts. When their teams needed them most, Denver’s star players stepped up while those for Los Angeles failed to seize their opportunities. Let’s dive into some of the important numbers from this gut-wrenching loss.
Los Angeles began the season on a high note jumping out to a 4-1 record thanks in large part to the fantastic play of quarterback Justin Herbert. The second-year sensation had this offense looking unstoppable at times and had Herbert looking like an early MVP candidate. Since Week 5 however, the Bolts offense has been inconsistent, and their record reflects that. The Powder Blue has won just two of their last six outings and some telling themes have begun to present themselves.
When the Chargers are winning, they are accompanied by superhuman performances from Herbert. On the other hand, Herbert has struggled mightily in many of their losses which include some of the worst outings of his career over the past seven weeks. Against the Broncos, Herbert played quite admirably becoming just the third quarterback to throw for over 300 yards on the stingy Denver defense this season. Despite successfully moving the ball downfield, Herbert threw TWO interceptions which ultimately cost the Chargers the victory.
With Los Angeles trailing by a touchdown to start the second half, Herbert mounted two consecutive drives into Denver territory. Looking to add points on the scoreboard and threaten the Broncos with a chance of a comeback, Herbert made his worst two throws of the day. On the first, he underthrew tight end Jared Cook who had a step on his man in the back corner of the endzone. The second was thrown slightly behind a wide-open Austin Ekeler on a check down. Both players appeared to be out of sync on the play, as Ekeler tried to get upfield while Herbert anticipated he’d throttle down.
Both interceptions ended up in the hands of rookie cornerback Patrick Surtain II, with the second one being returned for 70 yards and a touchdown. As soon as the Chargers appeared to be knocking on the door, two costly interceptions turned the Bolt’s two best scoring opportunities into 14 points for Denver. Brutal.
SEVENTY-TWO POINT SEVEN
Entering the weekend, the Denver Broncos were having tons of trouble extending drives. Their lack of production clearly centered around their inability to convert on the money down as they owned the fifth-worst third-down conversion rate in the NFL. The Broncos were especially bad in this scenario in last week’s blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles (Third Down Efficiency Vs Phi. 1-11).
When defending against third down and getting opposing offenses off the field, the Los Angeles defense hasn’t fared much better. The Bolts have allowed their opponents to convert on nearly 47 percent of third-down conversions this season (second-worst in NFL). Los Angeles didn’t help lower that mark in their game against Denver as the Broncos dominated on third down the entire day.
The Broncos finished 8-for-11 on third down for a SEVENTY TWO POINT SEVEN third-down conversion rate. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater did not have the most productive day but was extremely dependable when called upon. Bridgewater went 11-for-18 passing for 129 yards and two touchdowns (1 rush, 1 pass) with nine of his 11 completions resulting in first downs. The Chargers could not figure out a way to get the Broncos off the field on third down and Bridgewater had plenty to do with that.
ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-NINE
One reason Bridgewater was only asked to pass 18 times in this game is that he was temporarily sidelined with an apparent ankle injury in the first half. Still, he rebounded quickly and appeared to be fine once entering back into the ball game. The biggest reason he wasn’t asked to do a whole lot was because of the monster performances the Broncos saw from their backfield.
Denver’s two-headed beast of Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams combined for ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-NINE all-purpose yards against the Chargers. Those two backs are responsible for nearly 66 percent of the entire offensive production for the team as the Broncos only had 302 yards of total offense in the game.
Bruising his way to a game-high 83 rushing yards, Gordon ran aggressively against his former team, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He also added a catch for five yards but his persistence in the run game was where he made his impact. His physical running style took a lot out of the Chargers defense which continues to struggle to defend against the ground game.
Williams earned his paycheck tonight in multiple different ways. He took 14 carries for 54 yards and also led his squad with 57 receiving yards, a new career-high.
The Chargers will look to get things back on track as they travel to Cincinnati next week.