The Los Angeles Chargers have heard plenty of jokes in the past on their kicking game. From the likes of Roberto Aguayo to Caleb Sturgis, it seemed as if the one Achilles heel that was staring the Bolts in the face was their kicking game.
Funny how things have a way of working out.
As the Chargers looked to stay alive in the chase for the AFC West, the team called upon Micheal Badgley to play the role of hero against the Cincinnati Bengals. He did so without a complaint, or a missed opportunity either.
Philip Rivers struggled the day after his birthday to get the Charger offense going. Going 19-of-29 for 220 yards and a touchdown, Rivers was forced to settle for threes instead of sixes.
Keenan Allen once again was the team’s consistent option with five catches for 78 yards and a score. Austin Ekeler bounced back from a rough week in Pittsburgh to combine for 94 total yards of offense a touchdown.
But the real story of the day was Badgely. Going 4-of-4 in field goals and a long of 59-yards, the 23-year-old rookie from Miami was the reason for the Chargers 10th victory.
As the clock began to wind down in the second quarter, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn called a timeout. Putting faith in his young struggling kicker, Lynn sent Badgely out for the kick of his life. A long of 59 to give the Chargers a five-point lead.
As the clock stayed firm at zero, the New Jersey native took a deep breath and let it fly. A perfect snap led to a perfect hold which led to a tight kick nearing the right goal post.
Sliding in, the Chargers would take the lead. It was the longest in Chargers history.
But it was Badgley’s final kick of the evening that would give the Bolts the dagger to put the game away. With 49 seconds on the clock, Badgely nailed a 49-yard kick give the Chargers a 26-21 lead, thus eliminating a chance for a comeback.
Badgley made history in the kicking game, an area many have considered to be horrendous for Los Angeles this season. Not only was his 59-yard beauty the longest in team history, but his 59 points is the most by any Chargers kicker through seven career games.
The Charger now have the second-best record in the entire AFC. Thanks to losses by New England, Houston, and Pittsburgh, the Bolts are just one game behind the Chiefs for the division lead. If not for an injury to Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, Los Angeles could be the team to beat heading into January.
As Thursday night rapidly approaches, the Chargers now are a win away from taking control of the AFC West. On Thursday, the Chiefs will play host to the red-hot Bolts in Arrowhead Stadium.
All it takes is a game to change a story. For Badgely, it came in the form of a kick. A history-making kick.