The Chargers gutted out a wild, back-and-forth 19-16 victory to top the Broncos on Monday Night Football. The former moves to 4-2 and is atop the division with the Chiefs while the Broncos fall to 2-4 on the year.
It was a tough, tough night for Justin Herbert and the Chargers offense that went toe-to-toe with the league’s best pass defense. The ground game was hard to come by, as well, but the yards came when they needed to in order for the Bolts to walk away victors after over 67 minutes of game time.
For a complete rundown of tonight’s action, check out the quarter-by-quarter recap below.
The Chargers opened the game on offense but failed to find points before punting it away. The Broncos were aided by a defensive pass interference penalty on J.C. Jackson to help bring them down the field far enough on their opening drive before they kicked a 51-yard field goal to take the early lead 3-0.
The Chargers failed to drive the field on their next drive and swiftly punted it back to the Broncos. Russell Wilson began to look a lot like his usual self as he scrambled and made plays to push the offense down the field. Rookie tight end Greg Dulcich, who is playing in his first NFL game after returning from injury, somehow went undetected up the right sideline on a wheel route to score from 39 yards out.
That rare explosive play from the Broncos pushed their lead to 10-0.
The Chargers drive carried over through the first quarter well into the second. Tight end Gerald Everett made several key catches to help continue the drive and the offense was able to push Austin Ekeler over the goal line on a six-yard scoring run. With a little over nine minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Chargers trailed 10-7.
The Broncos couldn’t muster any of that early game momentum and wound up going three-and-out thanks to a batted pass by Khalil Mack on third down.
The Chargers made a strong effort to get down for a potential lead-grabbing touchdown, but a bad rep by Trey Pipkins II got Herbert sacked for a big loss and the Bolts were forced to kick a field goal after the third down pass attempt was batted down.
With under a minute left in the half, the game was knotted at 10-10.
The Broncos broke a huge play to KJ Hamler to flip the field in an instant. A couple plays later they converted a field goal to take a 13-10 lead into the half.
The Chargers forced the Broncos to go three-and-out to begin the second half which helped give the offense some much-needed momentum. Justin Herbert and offense managed to get all the way to the Denver 12-yard line before another pass was batted down by the Broncos defense which forced yet another field goal. The successful kick knotted the score once more at 13-13.
Denver posted another short drive before being forced to punt thanks to a huge sack by Derwin James. The Chargers took over and drove into Denver territory before facing a fourth-and-two as the third quarter expired.
The Chargers failed on their fourth-and-two attempt as cornerback Damarri Mathis broke up a pass intended for DeAndre Carter after some excellent coverage.
The Broncos couldn’t muster any points and punted away to the Los Angeles 17-yard line. But on the first play of the drive, Herbert threw over the middle into tight coverage which ricocheted off Gerald Everett’s hands and into the arms of outside linebacker Baron Browning. The Broncos didn’t gain a yard in four plays but were still able to chip in a field goal for a 16-13 lead.
Needing points in a bad way, the Chargers went 58 yards in 10 plays, despite losing center Will Clapp early on in the drive. Former fifth-round pick Brenden Jaimes was slotted in at center and did his best to keep up with the intimidating Broncos front. Yet another pass interference penalty on Denver helped the Bolts get down the field but the drive stalled at the 17-yard line of the Broncos. The Chargers were able to notch the game at 16 all before Denver took over once again.
It took just four plays for the Chargers to get Denver to punt once again and the Bolts took over with under two minutes left in regulation.
Brandon Staley decided to forego all three of his remaining timeouts to allow the clock to run all the way down from 1:51 to zero without putting up much of a fight to go down and kick a game-winning field goal.
Both teams entered overtime knotted at 16-16.
The Bolts forced the Broncos into a three-and-out to open the overtime period but the Broncos returned the favor on the other side. Zion Johnson recorded his third holding penalty which effectively killed the drive as soon as it began.
Both teams once again traded three-and-outs, but the Chargers special team unit made what had to be the play of the game. On the Chargers’ final punt of the game, rookie cornerback Ja’Sir Taylor shoved a Broncos player into their punt returner which forced a muffed punt that the Chargers recovered around the Denver 30-yard line.
The Bolts moved seven yards which was just enough for Dustin Hopkins to hit the game-winning field goal. The Chargers would leave Monday Night Football with a 19-16 victory.
Justin Herbert finished with 238 yards passing with an interception in a rough night for the entire unit through the air.
Austin Ekeler rushed for 36 yards and a touchdown while adding 10 receptions for 47 additional yards.
Joshua Palmer had a team-high 59 yards on nine receptions while tight end Donald Parham also chipped in 53 yards on three catches.
The defense was paced by Derwin James with 10 tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss. The Chargers recorded four sacks with two coming from Drue Tranquill and another coming from Khalil Mack.
The Chargers will be back at SoFi next week to face the Seahawks.