The Chargers lose the toss again, the Detroit Lions choosing to defer, giving Philip Rivers and the offense the ball to start the game. Desmond King returns the opening kickoff 28 yards to give the Chargers the ball to start the game on the 26 yard line. With Hunter Henry out, Sean Culkin in there early. Mike Williams out there on the field as well after missing practice most of the week with an injury.
Chargers quickly behind the sticks with a 3rd and 7 after a Keenan Allen incompletion and 3 yard run by Austin Ekeler. The offensive line gave Rivers good time but a pass that was slightly behind Allen gives Darius Slay the chance to break it up forcing a punt, which is a good one at 55 yards from Ty Long.
The Lions, after seeing the Chargers give up 200+ on the ground last week test the run early, but only wind up with 3 yards total on their first 2 carries. On 3rd and 7, Gus Bradley dials up a safety blitz from Jaylen Watkins which forced a bad throw and a 3 & out for the Lions.
After a 45 yard punt, the Chargers have the ball from their own 31. The pass blocking continues to be good so far this game giving Rivers time to find Austin Ekeler for a 35 yard pass down the sideline. Rivers immediately follows that up with a 12 yard pass to Keenan Allen getting the Chargers inside the 20 on 3 plays. Justin Jackson gets his first carry and takes it 6 yards up the middle. Rivers takes a shot to Mike Williams who went up for it but couldn’t quite bring it in. 3rd and 4 from the 13 yard line, again good blocking from the line gives Rivers time to shuffle and find Keenan Allen at the 3 yard line. 1st and goal. Ekeler takes an inside handoff and drives down to the 1. 2nd and goal. Rivers tries the back shoulder fade to Mike Dub again and he can’t get it under control. 3rd and goal from the 1. Rivers has to call a time out after the team couldn’t get the right personnel on the field. Austin Ekeler uses those hops that he showed off during training camp when he cleared 5 agility pads stacked on top of barrels to get in for the touchdown. Ty Long continues to be a reliable kicker and makes the extra point.
The Lions get the ball back and come out swinging as well. With a good mix of passes and some nifty runs from Kerryon Johnson, they quickly drive into Chargers territory. Matt Stafford finds Kerryon Johnson on a screen, which is mishandled initially but eventually corralled by Johnson who is able to outrun everyone for the 36 yard score. Rayshawn Jenkins couldn’t get off a block, and Thomas Davis was too slow to catch Johnson as well. Bad play all around from the D. The Chargers’ voodoo against kickers continues as Matt Prater misses the extra point.
Rivers starts the next drive out by escaping a closing pass rush and getting out to find Keenan Allen who worked his way back towards Rivers to work himself open for a 6 yard gain on what could have been a sack.
The awful offensive tackle play kills the drive as both Sam Tevi and Trent Scott get beat as their guys meet at Rivers for the sack.
Detroit comes out and continues to ride Kerryon Johnson, who gets a 9 yard run right up the middle on 1st down. They get the 1st down with a 4 yard run on the next play, then Joey Bosa is able to make a big stop for no gain. The clock ticks down to 0.
End of 1st Quarter Score: 7 - 6 Chargers
Thomas Davis starts the 2nd quarter off with a great read and reaction to stop a screen for no gain. Stafford then goes back and picks on Brandon Facyson to get an easy 1st down to Kenny Galladay. The defense is able to tighten things up and forces a punt when Joey Bosa is able to chase down Matt Stafford and lay a big hit for no gain on 3rd and 4.
Pinned down on their own 12 yardline, Austin Ekeler takes the handoff for 12 yards to give the Chargers offense some quick breathing room out to the 24. The drive washes out there however, forcing another punt. On the ensuing punt, Isaac Rochelle makes his second special teams tackle and literally steals the football...however offsetting penalties force a redo which allows the Lions to avoid the turnover.
On 1st down, again the Lions are able to find yards on the ground with a 19 yard run littered with missed tackles. Thomas Davis gives the Lions free yardage with a facemask and after only a few plays the Lions offense finds itself in Chargers’ territory again.
The defense winds up bending but not breaking, and lucking out on a bad throw from Matt Stafford to force a 40 FG attempt. Matt Prater shanks this attempt as well completing the Chargers’ lucky swing and avoiding any points.
Rivers and the offense are able to get moving thanks to a defensive holding call on Darius Slay, which Rivers follows up quickly with a pass to Derek Watt who has an impressive toe tap catch on the sideline. The again find themselves at 3rd and long (7), where Rivers finds Travis Benjamin on a comeback for 1st down yardage...but Benjamin has the 4th drop of the day.
Another 50+ yard punt from Ty Long pins the lions back inside their own 20. The Chargers defense comes out and asserts their authority to force a 3rd and 9, however an offsides penalty on rookie Jerry Tillery makes that a 3rd and 4. Matt Stafford is able to find Marvin Jones Jr for a big gain to give the Lions 1st down near midfield as the clock ticks down to the 2 minute warning.
The defense is able to force another punt giving the Chargers offense another shot at points before halftime. The punt is pretty fantastic, pinning the Chargers at their 3 yard line. Rivers and the offense wind up with 97 yards to go with 1:20 and 2 TOs. However the Chargers are apparently content to go to the locker room with this score. They hand off to Ekeler, then let the clock run all the way down to 35 seconds then call a time out.
An 11 yard sideline pass to Keenan Allen creates some room, out to the 16 but only 24 seconds left. Another 16 yard pass to Keenan Allen getting out to the 32 with 17 seconds left. With 11 seconds left Rivers finds Mike Williams deep to the Lions 21 yardline to set up a 39 yard FG attempt from Ty Long, who continues to be a magician and drills it right down the middle as time expires in the 1st half.
End of 1st Half Score: 10 - 6 Chargers
Matt Stafford and the Lions come out firing. After a holding penalty sets the offense back, Matt Stafford breaks free and runs for a 1st down. Then on a free play he’s able to pick on Facyson again for a 27 yard gain to Golladay. Stafford then takes a shot into the endzone where Casey Hayward has such great coverage that he’s able to get the interception in the endzone, despite blatant offensive pass interference. Chargers football.
A false start means the Chargers start the drive off in the wrong direction. However the Rivers then hits Ekeler for a 25 yard screen, followed immediately by an amazing run from Justin Jackson for a touchdown, that winds up being “only” a 30 yard run. Then another screen to Austin Ekeler for a huge touchdown, that winds up being called back on a garbage call against Sam Tevi. This officiating crew is a hot mess. Rivers fights through it on a 2nd and 16 after multiple penalties and finds Keenan Allen for 23 yards and a 1st down. The Chargers then get a 1st and goal from the 1 after a pass interference in the endzone from Darius Slay. Ekeler attempts to go up over the pile again and gets the ball punched out at the goal line. Lions recover. The officials just dictated that drive and took 6 points away. Shameful.
The Chargers defense comes out and plays angry after their offense just got robbed like that forcing a quick 3 and out from the Lions, especially on 3rd and 2 when Bosa and Melvin Ingram met the RB in the backfield for a 1 yard loss.
Ken Whisenhunt does the smart thing and goes right back to Austin Ekeler on the first play back on offense and he manages an 8 yard run. Rivers finds Keenan Allen for 9 yards to keep the drive going and gets into Lions territory on 2 plays. Another chunk to TE Virgil Green for 9 yards then yet another 9 yard gain on a run from Austin Ekeler. The offense is cooking. The driver however fizzles out as the pass rush disrupts Rivers’ 3rd down attempt. Ty Long finally shows he’s human and hits the upright on a 39 yard attempt from the right hash, no good.
The Chargers defense buckles down and Rayshawn Jenkins comes down with an interception on a deep pass from Matt Stafford giving the ball back to Rivers and the offense.
End of 3rd Quarter Score: 10 - 6 Chargers
Rivers is able to drive down deep into Lions territory on big passes to Mike Williams and Dontrelle Inman, however the pass protection again forces the drive to stall out. Ty Long comes out to attempt a 41 yarder and shanks the ball, this time from the left hash. Now 1⁄3 today. The team needs Michael Badgley back.
Matt Stafford and the Lions put together a long drive, grinding out 1st downs and capping it off with a 31 yard touchdown pass to Kenny Golladay over Casey Hayward. Matt Prater converts the XP this time and puts the score up to 13 - 10 Lions.
Dez King takes the kickoff out to the 20 yard line giving the Chargers 80 yards to go. First pass over the middle to Dontrelle Inman gets tipped and almost picked off. Rivers then takes a deep shot but overthrows Allen up the sideline. On 3rd down ant 10, the Lions defense sells out to cover the pass and old man Rivers is able to run for 13 yards and a 1st down. His longest run since 2015.
Justin Jackson keeps the drive moving with a 13 yard run of his own. 2 plays later, Rivers faces down a free rusher and hits Mike Williams over the middle for a big gain of 18 yards. On 3rd and 5, Rivers finds Keenan Allen for 11 yards to get inside the 20 yard line again. Jackson gets dragged down in the backfield for a 4 yard loss on the next play as the clock winds down to the 2 minute warning.
A screen pass goes nowhere, giving the Chargers 3rd and 14. A delay of game pushes the Chargers back to 3rd and 19 from the 28. Rivers goes for it all and throws into double coverage and gets intercepted in the endzone by Darius Slay. 1:03 left and 3 time outs, but this game is pretty much over.
The defense makes 2 big stops on 1st and 2nd down, but the Lions get a 1st down and ice the game.
Final Score: 13 - 10 Lions