For most of the game, the Chargers that took the field against the Bills on Saturday night looked like a different team. Some of the personnel looked different and the apparent effort being given looked increased from weeks past. The Bolts defense recorded three turnovers while the offense gave the ball away zero times. Yet the team once again fell just short in another one-score game, losing 24-22 in primetime.
For those in the bandwagon looking for a tank to finish the season en route to a better draft pick next year, you got what you wanted on Saturday night. If you wanted to see the team win, you’re at least somewhat happy that the Chargers kept it close despite all the reasons it shouldn’t have been.
The Chargers have two more games left before their season ends, beginning with the Broncos next Sunday and then a season finale on January 7th against the Chiefs.
For the compete quarter-by-quarter recap of today’s game, continue on below.
The Chargers won the toss and chose to defer. It was Bills ball up first.
Josh Allen found Khalil Shakir for the Bills’ first conversion of the day but the Chargers quickly shut down the drive with a couple strong plays from backup safety Jaylinn Hawkins.
Easton Stick and the Chargers offense blew expectations away on their opening drive with a long and efficient opening performance. Stick completed five-of-seven passes with chunk gains to Quentin Johnston, Joshua Palmer, and Stone Smartt. They stalled just short of the end zone and decided to stick with the easy points to take an early 3-0 lead.
The Bills and Chargers traded punts on their next drive, but the Bolts managed to force a fumble by returner Deonte Harty and the ball was recovered Amen Ogbongbemiga at the Buffalo 27-yard line. Before the period ended, Stick hit Gerald Everett for a 15-yard pass.
Just three plays into the second quarter, the Chargers found the end zone on a designed quarterback run by Stick up the right side. Jamaree Salyer threw a great block and Stick strode in almost untouched. Chargers led 10-0 as things were looking quite different than many would have expected early on.
The Chargers defense forced another punt but Sam Martin pinned the Chargers deep inside their five-yard line. Stick and Co. couldn’t muster a first down and quickly punted right back.
On the first play of the new Bills drive, Josh Allen had ample time in the pocket before executing a perfect scramble drill that ended in a 57-yard touchdown to Gabriel Davis. Davis streaked deep late and caught the pass over Kenneth Murray who was stuck in a tough situation he should have never been in.
The Chargers struggled to find much positive momentum through most of the quarter and that coincided with the Bills realizing that they simply needed to focus on pounding the rock to get back ahead of the Chargers. Behind the legs of James Cook, Leonard Fournette, and Josh Allen, the Bills marched right down into the end zone with 38 second remaining in the half.
As the teams headed to the locker room, the Bills held a 14-10 lead.
The Chargers began the half with the football but could only muster one first down before punting it away. On the other side, Josh Allen tried to fit another home run ball to Stefon Diggs but Alohi Gilman dove in front of the pass for an incredible takeaway.
The offense manage to get deep inside Bills territory but an illegal formation penalty was called on Johnston which wiped out a first-down run by him on an end-around. They ended up settling for three points to minimize the Bills’ lead to 14-10.
The last interception did not deter Josh Allen from continuing to throw the ball deep. Allen found Davis once again for a big gain up the left sideline. That led to a short quarterback sneak from Allen into the end zone for his second rushing score of the night. That pushed their lead up to 21-13 late in the period.
The Chargers offense moved the ball well enough throughout the night to keep scoring points but those drives kept culminating in mainly field goals as opposed to touchdowns. Their first drive of the fourth quarter was more of the same as Dicker knocked home a 47-yarder to make it 21-16.
Khalil Mack had sack number 100 in his hands during the Bills’ next drive but Allen broke out before being sacked by Eric Kendricks and Tuli Tuopulotu on third down.
The Bills and Josh Allen began to falter as the clock continued to tick away. With the help of a third Bills turnover, the Chargers manage to tack on two more field goals from Cameron Dicker which gave them the 22-21 lead with roughly five minutes remaining in regulation.
The Bills ultimately made the plays they needed to move down the field and get into field goal range, all while ticking precious time off of the clock. They took four minutes and 58 seconds off the clock before kicking the go-ahead field.
Stick and the offense attempted to lateral their way to a wild miracle, but it ended with an illegal forward pass. The Chargers fell 24-22.