The 2019 LA Chargers struggled as a rushing team through the season but most of it was condensed in the first half of the year. From game 1 to game 8, the Chargers ranked 28th in rushing yards at 160 carries for 556 yards, 3.48 yards per carry. Much of that was condensed in a four game stretch in which LA had 63 rush attempts for only 142 yards, averaging 2.25 yards per carry and under 40 yards per game.
And yet the Chargers lost the first of those three games by only seven points, seven points, and three points. Then in the fourth of those contests, they won.
It was only by a point but when the Chargers beat the Chicago Bears 17-16 while rushing for 36 yards and giving up 162, they became only the 18th team since the 1970 merger to win while gaining fewer than 40 yards on the ground and giving up more than 160. They were also only the seventh team to accomplish that on the road.
In 1986, the New England Patriots beat the New Orleans Saints on the road while giving up 178 rushing yards and only gaining two yards on the ground themselves. The Saints fumbled seven times, losing five of those to New England.
In 1990, the Colts beat Washington 35-28 even though they could only gain 33 yards on the ground and gave up 223. Indianapolis intercepted Mark Rypien twice and Jeff George threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns. The game-winning points came on a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown by Alan Grant.
The Chargers were on the wrong end in 1998, rushing for 174 yards against the Cardinals while Arizona could only gain 25. But quarterback Craig Whelihan went 16-of-40 with four interceptions and San Diego also lost a fumble, resulting in five turnovers. The Chargers tied the game with :22 seconds left but that was too much time for the Cards.
Then there was last year.
Though Melvin Gordon had a 19-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, he only had seven more carries for 12 yards over the rest of the game. Austin Ekeler had three carries for three yards and Derek Watt added one for two. On the other side, LA allowed Bears running back David Montgomery to gain a career-high 135, almost as many yards as he had in his previous four games combined.
But Chicago missed two field goals, including a 41-yarder at the end of regulation, and the Chargers get a rare win when not controlling the ground game and losing time of possession 38 minutes to 22 minutes.
In the final eight games of the season, the Chargers ranked 17th in rushing yards and yards per carry.