The LA Chargers got lucky in this one, there’s no doubt about it.
With seven seconds left in the game, Randy Bullock lined up to attempt a 31-yard field goal that would have tied the game up 16-16. Fortunately, he pushed the ball wide right and the Bolts were able to outlast the Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 16-13.
Joe Burrow — this year’s number-one overall draft pick — did his very best to win it for Cincinnati at the end, and even threw a would-be touchdown pass at the end, but it was called off due to an offensive pass-interference penalty on AJ Green.
Burrow finished with 193 yards on 26-of-36 passing and one ill-advised interception. His biggest mark on the game actually came in the first quarter when he took a QB draw straight up the middle for a 23-yard touchdown to get the Bengals on the board.
The offense looked a bit unsettled in their first game of the season, which was led by Tyrod Taylor and his 208 yards passing. He finished with zero touchdowns but also did not turn the ball over. In fact, no one on the Chargers turned the ball over in this one as they escaped with a +2 differential in the takeaway department.
Following Burrow’s touchdown run, the Chargers tacked on a pair of field goals in the second quarter to keep things close at halftime with a score of 7-6.
The Chargers came out running the ball in the third, sparked by a 26-yard sprint by rookie Joshua Kelley who leapt over some bodies at the line of scrimmage before sprinting up the left sideline.
After the Bengals put up a pair of field goals for themselves in the third quarter, the Chargers stared down a seven-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter. With 12:23 remaining in the game, Joshua Kelley was able to find a crease along the left side of the line and stumbled into the end zone for his first professional touchdown which tied it all up at 13-13. Just a kickoff and a pair of plays later, a fresh-legged Denzel Perryman put his helmet right on the football and forced a Joe Mixon fumble deep inside Bengals territory. It was truly a rare turnover by Mixon, who hadn’t fumbled in over 621 touches.
In eight plays, the Bolts couldn’t manage a touchdown, but they were able to convert a short 22-yard field goal which ended up being the deciding points in this one.
Austin Ekeler led the Chargers in rushing with 84 yards on 19 carries while Kelley chipped in 60 on 12 totes. Tight end Hunter Henry led the team in receiving with 73 yards on five catches while Williams came in second with four catches for 69 yards.
Defensively, the Chargers got to Burrow three times with Joey Bosa, Jerry Tillery, and Uchenna Nwosu recording their first sacks of the season.
Melvin Ingram, while he didn’t register a sack, picked off a Burrow pass that was intended for running back Giovani Bernard setting up a screen. Miraculously, Ingram corralled the pass with only one arm, while the other was draped around Bernard.
The Chargers welcome the Kansas City Chiefs to SoFi Stadium next week for game two, in what will be the team’s first game inside the incredible architectural marvel.
Opening kickoff is scheduled for 1:25pm.