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Chargers Week 12 ‘Surge or Static?’: James, Allen were rock-steady in frustrating loss to Broncos

Who stood out, and who floundered against the Broncos?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Games like that one always make writing this up incredibly difficult.

First, it leaves me with few to no good choices for our “Surge” section. Secondly, it gives me too many choices to pick from for the “Static” section. I always want to balance this article as best as possible, but sometimes the product we’re forced to work off of is just...unfortunate.

But like we always do, we press on.

Let’s take a look at the players whose performances against the Broncos either saw them “surge” forward or caused them to stay “static” for another week.

Surge

S Derwin James

At times on Sunday, it looked like Derwin James was the only player on the Chargers defense that came prepared to play. He made his presence felt early with several ferocious tackles and topped his performance off with a momentum-shifting interception that led to the Bolts’ first points of the game just prior to halftime.

James did his best to keep the Chargers in this game, but a lackluster offense that continually shot itself in the foot is the fastest way for your defensive play to not matter. DJ, Bosa, and Kyzir White deserve better and it’s just a flat out bummer that a performance like this had to come in an all-important divisional game.

James finished with seven total tackles, including a pair of tackles for loss, a pass breakup, and the aforementioned interception.

WR Keenan Allen

In a game where consistency on offense was hard to come by, Allen did his best to be a rock for Justin Herbert in the passing game. He ended the game with seven receptions on 10 targets which he turned into 85 yards. During the first half, Allen crossed the 700 career receptions mark in his 111th game, tying him for the fastest player to 700 receptions in NFL history with current Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown.

Static

K Dustin Hopkins

Hopkins missed his first field goal on Sunday since signing with the Chargers in early November. While it wasn’t so much a pure miss from 52 yards away, the quality of kick was rather striking. Hopkins pulled the kick the whole way, but the ball at one point was spinning parallel with the ground as it sailed outside of the left upright. Just an unfortunately struck kick. From a veteran like Hopkins, you just can’t have that.

QB Justin Herbert

On the first play of the fourth quarter, with the Chargers facing a third-and-long and a seven-point deficit, Herbert escaped pressure up the middle and attempted to loft a pass to Jared Cook in the back of the end zone. The pass was unusually under-thrown and it fell straight into the hands of rookie cornerback Patrick Surtain II. It was essentially a game-ender after the Chargers controlled the ball for nearly the entire third quarter only to come out with zero points to show for it.

More drops were had today — it’s like a broken record at this point — but Herbert seemed unusually off on several throws today and he also had a odd habit of holding onto the ball a bit too long behind a line that’s missing three of five starting members. Most of the time, you can point to those around Herbert for his struggles. This week, I think you have to eat the blow and admit this wasn’t his best day by any stretch.

RB Austin Ekeler

Following his career day against the Steelers where he scored four combined touchdowns, Ekeler’s performance against the Broncos will unfortunately be remembered for a pair of drops, one of which was tipped into the hands of a Broncos defender and returned the other way for a touchdown. At the time, the Chargers had just allowed a touchdown which rebuilt another 14-point deficit and they needed to score in the worst way.

This play, which looked to be a potential big gain and a first down for the Chargers, was the final nail in a coffin that had otherwise been built well before the game was officially over.

Ekeler finished with 31 yards rushing on 12 carries while chipping in six receptions for 68 receiving yards and his seventh touchdown catch on the year.