The Chargers had plenty of Winners and Losers in this weekend’s game against the Vikings. Below, our staff highlighted some of the biggest names, but we’d love to hear your thoughts as well in the comments below!
QB Justin Herbert
Was Sunday’s win over the Vikings the best game of Justin Herbert’s career? If it wasn’t, it certainly was still one of the best game by a quarterback in recent memory.
Herbert completed a mind-boggling 40 of his 47 pass attempts for 405 yards and three touchdowns. His completion percentage of 85.1 percent was the highest single-game mark for any quarterback to attempt at least 45 passes in a game. He also set the NFL record for the most completions by a quarterback through their first four seasons in NFL history. He just completed the the third game of year four! That record will only be expanded upon and it’s hard not to see that one lasting awhile in the record books.
Justin Herbert ends the day completing 40 of 47 passes -- that's 85%.— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) September 24, 2023
That's the best single-game completion percentage for any quarterback with at least 45 pass attempts in league history.
It’s becoming hard not to foresee this season going somewhat parallel to the 2021 campaign. The run game and defense are underwhelming to the point that Herbert must throw his team to victory. If it wasn’t for the Broncos allowing over 700 yards of offense to the Dolphins, the Chargers would still be allowing the most yards in the NFL on a weekly basis.
This can’t continue. But in a reality where it does, the Chargers are lucky to have Herbert as their quarterback.
WR Keenan Allen
What a game from the 31-year old veteran.
With fans and the NFL wondering just how much is left in the tank for a veteran not known for his elite speed and athleticism, Allen showed that he still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve against a reeling Vikings pass defense.
By the time the game came to a close, Allen had caught a franchise record 18 receptions and set a new personal record with 215 receiving yards. He personally didn’t find the end zone, but he did manage to execute a perfect trick play in which he lobbed a 49-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams.
Keenan Allen has set the NFL record for most games with 11-plus catches in history.— Eric Smith (@Eric_L_Smith) September 24, 2023
Today is his 14th such game.
Allen also set some NFL records you may not have known he was in contention for.
According to Chargers team writer Eric Smith, Allen set the record for the most career games with 11 or more catches with his 14th against the Vikings. In the locker room following the game, Brandon Staley announced to the team that Allen had set the record for the most receptions of 15 or more yards in a single game.
With Williams’ injury potentially being season-ending, it’s hard not to wonder how the Chargers will handle the sizable salaries of both of their top receivers. With Allen still producing at an elite level, could he end up playing his entire career in powder blue?
EDGE Tuli Tuipulotu
At the time of this writing, Tuli Tuipulotu’s PFF grade is 59.3. We’ve all come to accept that it’s not a perfect system, but how in the world do Tuli get such a pedestrian grade after posting three sacks, three hurries, three QB hits, and three stops?! The man has been a revelation’ his reliability and production has allowed Staley to spell Joey Bosa and regulate him to obvious passing downs and high leverage situations. Bosa has picked up three sacks in two weeks in this role.
Tuli has been everything Staley could have dreamed for in a Day 2 pick. It’s clear the Chargers have found a piece to build the defense around in future seasons.
S JT Woods
Going into this game, JT Woods had yet to miss a tackle, and wasn’t credited by PFF with an reception allowed in his first 18 snaps of the season.
After Sunday, Woods can checkmark both of these “firsts” for his 2023 campaign.
There was always going to be a learning curve for JT, and given the context, it’s no surprise that he would take an apparent step back when playing against one of the most prolific receivers in the league. It’s just unfortunate that one of his two missed tackles in this game allowed Justin Jefferson to break free for a Vikings’ touchdown.
Although Derwin James Jr. claimed his hamstring injury is minor and nothing to worry about, it’s concerning that he never hopped back on the field in such a close game, given how close this team was to falling to 0-3. Hopefully Woods can bounce back in a big way this weekend against the Raiders, as Derwin’s availability is no guarantee.
CB Michael Davis
Michael Davis did not have his best game against the Vikings, his coverage grade of 57.5 reflects what the broadcast showed; that he gave up key yards in key moments that made the win a bit harder to bring home. Davis lost his footing in trail of KJ Osborn on his 4th down conversion that turned into a touchdown which kept the Vikings in the game. Several times this season he has been caught out on inside releases in press man, yes these have been tough assignments to follow receivers all the way across the field, but if he is going to play aggressively down on the line, he needs to get better at protecting his inside.
A even more egregious moment was his hands to the face penalty to give Minnesota yet another lifeline. Now I'm going to say that, for me, that wasn't enough contact to justify that call from the line judge however to even risk a hand that high in such a critical situation is not a smart decision and it almost cost the Bolts the game.
With JC Jackson being inactive, this was a chance for Michael Davis to assert himself as a starter but instead there are now more concerns about the corner group. After 3 games he will have plenty more opportunities to prove his worth to this defense, cornerback is a confidence position so let's hope he comes back with a strong performance in Week 4.
RB Joshua Kelley
For the second week in a row, your staff highlighted Joshua Kelley as a good prop-bet to pick up, and I (Kyle) would like to take this time to apologize for that. The explosion we saw in Week 1, and sporadically last season before his injury, didn’t show up against the Titans or the Vikings.
The Daily Norseman, our friendly SBNation page dedicated to Viking fandom, let us know the Vikings run defense was a weakness and the path to Chargers’ victory was through the run game. Despite this, Kelley could not get momentum going on the ground, averaging a terrible 1.1 yards per carry on 11 attempts. Kellen Moore did an excellent job of addressing this problem by essentially adapting a running component into the pass game through screens and quick-hitting RPOs.
However, when the game was on the line and the Chargers had to convert on a 4th-and-1 to put the game away, he called Kelley’s number one more time... and the back couldn’t convert the first down.
The Vikings were in that position because Brandon Staley and the Chargers went for a 4th down deep in their own territory up four points. pic.twitter.com/YusGQnNxqL— The Comeback NFL (@TheComebackNFL) September 24, 2023
Elijah Dotson and Isaiah Spiller should be in line for some more opportunities, as Kelley has failed to perform lead back opportunities when given the chance. The state of this running back room without Austin Ekeler is certainly bleak.