After starting the year 0-2, the Chargers needed the best from everyone in order to claw back to 2-2. Wins over the Vikings and Raiders did not come easy and not without some historic play from several of their stars.
Let’s take a look back at some of the top plays of the season through four games, all of which were desperately in order to turn the team’s fortunes around before things truly got out of hand.
3.) Donald Parham’s second touchdown catch from Justin Herbert
The Chargers needed more than Keenan Allen’s 18 receptions and 215 receiving yards to get their first win of the season in Minnesota.
In fact, half their touchdowns that day came via backup tight end Donald Parham who caught two short touchdowns to keep the Chargers in the game against a feisty Vikings club. The first was on a nifty side-arm throw from Justin Herbert in the first quarter to get the scoring started.
The second, however, was the most impressive and the one many reporters couldn’t wait to ask about in the locker room.
Late in the second quarter, Herbert took a snap with 47 seconds on the clock with the Chargers down 10-7 and the Vikings receiving the opening kickoff of the second half. After going through all of his progressions, Herbert landed on an open Parham right in front of him. He hesitated only slightly, throwing a minor pump fake before realizing he was going to have to put all the gas on the actual throw to beat the Vikings corner barreling down on his tight end.
Herbert threw what looked like one of the hardest passes he’s ever thrown. It hit its mark and dodged the defender’s outstretched hand by what looked like the width of a hair follicle. Parham somehow not only caught the ball, but he also came away without a broken finger.
After the game, Parham told us he was “blessed with strong hands” and we can’t help but agree.
2.) Justin Herbert’s 51-yard completion to Joshua Palmer to seal win over Raiders
The Chargers were doing everything they could — except convert on fourth down — to survive a late rally from the Raiders in their thrilling 24-17 win at home in Week Four. Asante Samuel Jr. picked off Raiders rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell to give the Chargers the ball back with 2:33 seconds left in regulation. At that point, many questioned why Samuel slid down at their own 11-yard line instead of gaining as many yards as possible in the other direction in case they couldn’t waste the clock. Las Vegas still had one timeout and two-minute warning in their pocket.
On first and second down, the Chargers ran the ball for a combined zero yards. They faced a third-and-10 on the other side of the break. A punt from their 11-yard line could have meant the Raiders starting their final drive in Chargers territory with a good return.
So this play meant a lot. They couldn’t convert earlier to help seal the game and now they faced an even taller challenge than a fourth-and-one.
But a fractured finger and “gruesome” nail injury couldn’t stop Herbert from putting the team on his back and carrying them to victory.
At the snap, Herbert dropped back, avoided some pressure off the edge, and launched a mortar shell into the hands of Joshua Palmer who was streaking up the left sidelined like his life depended on it.
Game. (Powder Blue) Blouses.
Josh Palmer with three deep sideline grabs of 29, 30 (TD), and 51 the last few games.— Tyler Schoon (@tylerjschoon) October 1, 2023
A go-ahead (and a bit lucky) TD last week and a game-sealing catch this week. pic.twitter.com/AZU4A70nHm
1.) Kenneth Murray’s interception to seal Chargers’ first win of 2023 season
When the Chargers’ failed on their fourth-and-one attempt from their own 24-yard line, the writing was all but written on the wall.
With 1:51 remaining on the clock, the Vikings only needed to go a quarter of the field to paydirt. Brandon Staley told reporters after the game that he felt confident his defense would be able to get a stop on top of the Vikings possesses zero timeouts, but we’ve seen teams score on the Chargers with far less time on the clock before.
The Vikings attempted seven plays in total on the ensuing drive, including a fourth-and-five conversion when quarterback Kirk Cousins hit tight end TJ Hockenson for a nine-yard gain. That huge play seemed like the nail in the coffin for the Chargers who now faced a first-and-six with 41 seconds remaining. But to everyone’s amazement, the Vikings did not spike the ball or call a play until almost 30 seconds ran off the clock. With 12 seconds remaining, Cousins dropped back and threw a bullet to Hockenson in the end zone. Alohi Gilman got there just in time to break up the pass which was batted straight up into the air. It ricocheted off the arms of JT Woods before being corralled in the air by Kenneth Murray.
Ball game. Chargers win.
This play takes our top spot as it began the quick turnaround for the Chargers to right the ship that had certainly gone off the rails in the first two weeks.