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Chargers Week 13 ‘Surge or Static?’: Herbert makes history, Nwosu fills a Bosa-sized void

Nwosu and the pass rush came to play!

NFL: NOV 21 Steelers at Chargers Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Chargers went in to Cincinnati on Sunday and came out with one of their most decisive victories this season in a situation where they absolutely needed to come out winners to help keep them from getting lost in the muddled race for the postseason in the AFC.

The team’s stars came to play on offense and when the defense lost one of their leaders, a number of young players stepped up in a big way.

At 7-5 and a home date with the 4-8 Giants on tap for next Sunday, this team is setting up some notable momentum heading into the final quarter of the season.

As always, here are this week’s players who either “surged” forward or stayed “static” with their play against the Bengals. Let’s get into it!

Surge

QB Justin Herbert

Herbert really did it all on Sunday against the Bengals.

On top of throwing for 317 yards and three touchdowns, Herbert recorded a touchdown-saving tackle and even scored a two-point conversion off a “Philly Special” trick play.

It was the type of performance that gains more and more respect the more you think about it, especially when you consider how close this game was to tipping into the lap of the Bengals early in the third quarter.

Before the end of the day, Herbert notched another piece of history amidst the incredible start to his NFL career. In the first half, Herbert completed his 700th career pass. That made him the fastest quarterback ever to 700 career completions as he did it in just 27 games.

It was another classic performance from Herbert who showed off his incredible arm talent on a number of throws. His deep ball placement was on point with massive throws to both Jalen Guyton and Mike Williams while he also flexed his arm strength on several “thread-the-needle” throws, including his first touchdown pass to Keenan Allen in which he split multiple defenders to find his WR1.

WR Keenan Allen

Coming into Sunday’s game, Allen only had managed to find the end zone on two occasions this season. It took him all but one quarter to double that season total as the Slayer found pay dirt twice early against the Bengals.

His first touchdown was an absolute missile from Herbert in which he split multiple defenders to hit Allen right where he needed the ball to limit outside interference. On his second touchdown, Allen helped sell the flood action to the right sideline before turning up into the end zone which left any and all defenders running in the opposite direction.

This was the type of game that we’ve all been waiting for from Allen who has struggled this year to score touchdowns. He was on pace to potentially have one of his worst seasons in terms of scoring, but his big game on Sunday put him right back on track to what we’ve come to expect from the team’s WR1.

Allen ended the day with just 34 yards on five catches. With five games remaining, he needs just 14 catches and 71 yards to reach the 100-catch, 1,000-yard thresholds on the year.

EDGE Uchenna Nwosu

Without Joey Bosa for the majority of Sunday’s game, Nwosu turned it up to another level against the Bengals. He finished the game with just a handful of tackles, but he still turned in a team-high two sacks and a tackle for loss. He also led the team with seven total pressures, three more than the next highest total (Jerry Tillery, four).

In a game where the pass rush really needed to come alive against a quarterback who thrives on throwing the deep ball, Nwosu and the rest of the young players up front truly erupted to record a season-high six sacks.

Static

RB Austin Ekeler

While he managed to salvage his performance with a touchdown and over 100 yards of total offense, Ekeler gave up the rock twice on Sunday with both fumbles leading directly to touchdowns for the Bengals. By no means should this make anyone begin to doubt Ekeler and his contributions to this team, but in this game specifically, his miscues were a big part in allowing Cincy to storm back before the half.

As Brandon Staley said in his post-game press conference, he believed the second fumble was simply unlucky in how he was hit by the defender. In my opinion, both were a bit unlucky in that defenders were able to get direct strikes with their helmets on the ball. Securing the ball against punches and other usual tackle attempts is one thing, but trying to keep the ball locked down against the crown of a helmet coming in at full speed is a whole other challenge.

So while I may put an asterisk or two next to his turnovers, two giveaways are two giveaways, especially when they caused massive swing in momentum. We still love Ekeler and wouldn’t trade him for the world, but this particular performance wasn’t his best day at the office.

CB Tevaughn Campbell

Campbell struggled once again in another start in place of Asante Samuel Jr. who is still in the middle of a cautious return from his second concussion of the season. He allowed six receptions on right targets his way and let up a team-high 78 yards through the air.

He did make up for his struggles with a big-time scoop-and-score situation which helped the Chargers take back the momentum late in Sunday’s game but overall he’s been the most detrimental member of the secondary this season. He currently allows team-highs in both completion percentage (70 percent) and yards (381), as well.