Chargers Whip Cardinals 45-10
November 29, 2018
They finally had a game where everything seemed to go right. The Los Angeles Chargers have been very good at times this season but had not put it together on both sides of the ball the way they did on Sunday at the StubHub Center in Carson.
While they were not perfect, the Chargers were almost perfect in rolling through the Arizona Cardinals for a 45-10 victory. The near perfection was led by Charger quarterback Philip Rivers, who completed 28 of 29 passes, breaking the single-game completion rate record (minimum of 20 attempts) with a 96.55 percent rate and surpassing the 94.7 percent set by Ryan Tannehill and Alex Smith.
Rivers also shattered the NFL record of most consecutive completions to start a game with 22, previously held by Mark Brunell and Derek Carr, by completing his first 25 passes of the game.
Coming off an embarrassing loss to the Broncos last week, Rivers was ecstatic over the team's performance against the Cardinals: "I didn't know it was 25 in a row. I did know that we hadn't missed, but I didn't know where it was. It was an efficient day, to say the least. There were so many guys today who were making catches, and the guys protected up front."
"A lot goes into completing the ball, more than just me throwing it. It was a fun day, to say the least." The 15th-year veteran tied the record for consecutive completions in a game in the third quarter on a 4-yard scoring strike to Keenan Allen for his third touchdown of the day.
The victory moved the Chargers to 8-3 on the season and solidified their hold on the top wild card spot in the playoffs. Charger Head Coach Anthony Lynn was very pleased with Rivers and the overall team performance, stating that: "I think the reason why you (have a streak) like that is because you're a balanced team."
"You're running the football. You're throwing the football. You're throwing screens. You're keeping them off guard - special plays - and I think that's why you're able to complete those plays like that."
The Cardinals came out firing, taking the opening kickoff and driving 76 yards in nine plays, scoring on a Josh Rosen to Larry Fitzgerald 25-yard touchdown pass to take an early 7-0 lead. After a Chargers punt gave them good field position, Rosen drove the Cardinals offense to the Chargers 12-yard line, where they settled for a 30-yard field goal from Phil Dawson.
The Cardinals had 108 yards in offense and a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. At the end of the game, they had 149 yards and 10 points. In the last three quarters, they gained a whopping 41 yards in offense. The Charger defense was dominant after the first quarter, led by Joey Bosa and Derwin James. Bosa, in his second game of the season, had two sacks and James had an interception and seven tackles.
The Chargers completely dominated the last three quarters of the game, scoring 45 unanswered points. Rivers threw for 259 yards and three touchdown passes. In addition to the touchdown pass from Rivers to Allen, Mike Williams also caught two touchdown passes.
Rivers has at least two touchdown passes in all 11 games in 2018. Only quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Johnny Unitas have thrown at least two touchdown passes in their first 11 games to start a season.
Tight End Sean Culkin had the first reception of his career, a leaping 24-yard reception from Rivers near the goal line, setting up a touchdown. Wide Receiver Travis Benjamin, who has been battling injuries this season, had his best game of the season, catching 3 passes for 47 yards, including a key 27-yard reception that led to the first touchdown of the game for the Chargers.
The production from the running back position was significant. Running back Melvin Gordon ran for 61 yards on 10 carries, scoring two touchdowns. Austin Ekeler added a rushing touchdown and caught 10 passes for 68 yards. Rookie running back Justin Jackson also rushed for 57 yards on seven carries.
For the game, the Chargers rushed for 178 yards on the ground.
The production from the running back position will be important in the coming weeks due to an injury to Gordon. Gordon suffered an MCL sprain in his right knee and will likely miss a few games. Ekeler and Jackson will need to carry the load until Gordon is ready to return.
Newt week's game is at Pittsburgh on Sunday Night in a nationally televised game. The Steelers are 7-3-1 and in first place in the AFC North. This game could be a preview of a possible AFC playoff matchup in January.