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Surge or Static: Where there’s a will, there’s a way (to lose)

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NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Losing, no matter how often you feel her cold, debilitating lash against your person, never gets that easy. Sure, you could tell yourself you’re jaded now and haven’t cared in quite some time, but the fact that you had to turn off your own mental function of acknowledging the negative outcomes just means you lost the entire war and don’t care to fight anymore battles. It still means she won the one conflict to rule them all.

After Sunday’s loss to the Denver Broncos, the one that completed the sweep for the season, Chargers fans at least got to see a brand-spanking-new way to lose a game in the final seconds.

After taking care of the hardest part (driving down to tie the game), the Chargers defense allowed themselves to get penalized on a deep pass whose sole intention was to draw a flag for pass interference and move the Broncos into field goal range without having to actually manufacture a drive.

Now, I believe the penalty was complete and utter garbage. Casey Hayward has as much right to the football as Courtland Sutton does and both made attempts to turn their heads and track the ball. Since the ball had so much arc, it wasn’t a situation where they had to turn around 180 degrees. They both just looked over their shoulder and had to follow it out of bounds. To the lesser-trained eye, it may have looked as if Hayward didn’t attempt to play the ball and cut-off Sutton, producing the flag. This was not the case.

Al Riveron, one of the league’s head of officiating and main “explainer” of flags, simply stated that the contact made by Hayward was the deciding factor. By his reasoning, however, every Hail Mary called should draw that flag. The explanation was also hot garbage and only rubbed more salt in the wound on a call that should never be made in a game situation like that. It wasn’t abundantly “clear” that Hayward interfered. It wasn’t an easy, run-of-the-mill call to make yet the ref was more than prepared to chuck that piece of cloth in the direction of the Chargers’ best cornerback, especially on a day that he would like to forget as soon as possible.

It was a rough outing from start to finish. Unfortunately, we all, for the most part, expected it.

With that being said, here are your “Sure or Static” players of week 13.

Surge

RB Austin Ekeler

Ekeler continues to be, week-in and week-out, the team’s best and most consistent player on the offensive side of the ball. At this point, he is squarely in the “Danny Woodhead role” which has been extremely productive during the team’s recent down years.

When the team isn’t doing too hot, it’s probably because Rivers isn’t doing too hot. Usually it’s when Rivers can’t stop throwing interceptions and the team has consistently fallen behind in games and the last 25-30 minutes are spent playing catch-up. In this case, Rivers has always pelted the running back with targets due to his inability to press the ball down field for fear of turning it over again.

Over the last three games, Ekeler is averaging four catches and 63 yards receiving yards to go along with a pair of scores. He is still second on the team with 69 catches but has now fallen behind Mike Williams for third in receiving yards with 718.

At his current pace, Ekeler is set to finish with 957 receiving yards and could possibly lead the team in receiving touchdowns while he’s at it.

WR Keenan Allen

Allen got back in the end zone this week which brings his season total to five with four games left in the regular season. The seven-year veteran has totaled six touchdown catches in each of the last two seasons and hasn’t broken past that mark since his rookie season when he caught eight.

After starting the year with three touchdowns in three games, the idea of surpassing six on the year seemed like a walk in the park. However, Allen succumbed to a scoring drought where he went seven-straight games without finding the end zone, between week three against the Texans and ending against the Chiefs in Mexico City.

With four games left to play, there is still a solid chance Allen can bypass that mark of six, but the play of Philip Rivers is going to have a big say in whether or not it comes down to the wire.

WR Mike Williams

So Mike Williams has been something else recently, right? I mean, he really is averaging at least one 45 or 50-yard catch a game and he’s usually catching them in some insane manner. Whether it’s with one hand or making a full extension, Williams has found a way to be Rivers’ new Vincent Jackson. I only wish he could make those types of catches in the end zone this season.

The third-year receiver is averaging an insane 20. 5 yards per catch this season and is on pace for a career-high 1,037 yards, which would shatter his receiving total from 2018.

As of right now, Williams sits at 38 catches for 778 yards and zero touchdowns.

Static

QB Philip Rivers

In comparison to his most recent games, Rivers had a fairly clean night. However, it wasn’t what he did on the stat sheet that got him on this side of the Surge or Static list.

With the Chargers well-within field goal range, Rivers took a snap and scanned the field for a few moments before deciding no one was open. Instead of chucking the ball out of bounds, Rivers tucked the ball, put his hand on the back of an offensive linemen and hit the fetal position. This lost the offense around five to six yards and made Badgley’s field goal attempt 55 yards instead of 49. Badgley went on to miss the kick, which in hindsight, could have been the difference in this one as the Chargers got beat by McManus’ last-second field goal.

My biggest gripe with this is that you do no see other veteran quarterbacks who are considered their franchise’s best passer do this. You do not see Brady, Brees, or Rodgers give themselves up in the pocket so quickly when faced with adversity.

This must be a testament to what Rivers thinks of his arm strength. If he can’t flick the ball out of bounds in a split second, then yes, he has regressed much more than we ever thought.

CB Casey Hayward

This was a bummer among bummers for Hayward. He has consistently been one of the best corners in the league despite his lack of athletic ability and elite intangibles. He wins with his mind and veteran savvy. However, it took a 6-foot-4, 220+ wide receiver to show that his mind can’t ever be less than 100% if he wants to compete with physical specimens.

I’ll give Hayward the benefit of the doubt on Sutton’s first touchdown. It was an incredible effort and I still respect the snag whether or not I believe it was really incomplete. But I cannot let it slide on the second touchdown pass. He lost track of Sutton when everyone and their mom knows the rookie quarterback will be looking for his top target when the pocket starts to collapse.

The pass interference call at the end of the game was complete and utter garbage. Both players were tracking the ball over their shoulder. Sutton initiated the contact. The referee was more than ready to throw a flag and he just needed the slightest excuse to do it.

I don’t blame Hayward for that. He was just a scapegoat for the refs ulterior motive.

Again, it was about as rough as it gets for Hayward and we can only hope it was as simple as that: one bad game.