Culver City Observer -

Chargers head to Kansas City with a three-game winning streak

 

December 31, 2020

CHARGERS

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert set a rookie record by throwing his 28th touchdown pass of the season against Denver last Sunday at SoFi Stadium. The Chargers won the game 19-16. Their final game of the season is Sunday on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs at 10 a.m. on Channel 2.

The Los Angeles Chargers have finally found a formula for winning football games and while it is too

late to save the season and possibly some jobs, it should give the Chargers some momentum going into

the 2021 season. The Chargers won their third game in a row last Sunday, defeating the Denver Broncos,

19-16, in the final game of the season at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.

The Chargers ended the season with a 4-4 record at home. With their third consecutive victory, the

Chargers improved to 6-9 for the season. It is the first three game winning streak for the Chargers since

the 2018 season. The Broncos are now 5-10 for the season and all alone in last place in the AFC West.

The Chargers formula for winning in the past three weeks has entailed winning the turnover battle, a

conservative passing attack and game winning drives by their rookie quarterback, Justin Herbert. In the

past three games, the Chargers have won the turnover battle, 6-1. In the past three games, Herbert has

not looked downfield to the extent the passing plays like he did earlier in the season.

In the past three games against the Falcons, Raiders and Broncos, the Chargers have focused on

getting the ball out of Herbert's hands quickly, to avoid sacks and hits. During this three-game winning

streak, Herbert has been sacked four times and hit 14 times. In the three games prior to the current

three game winning streak, versus the Jets, Bills and Patriots, Herbert was sacked nine times and hit 29

times.

The Chargers were tired of seeing their quarterback get hit, which can lead to turnovers and an injury

to their quarterback. The Chargers have played it safe on offense the past three weeks and while it does

not lead to blowout wins, it has led to three consecutive victories. It also helps to have a quarterback

that can close the game out and get the victory.

As Charger head coach Anthony Lynn stated: "I am glad we have the young man. He works his tail off.

I give him all the credit in the world." Against the Broncos, Herbert completed 21 of 33 passes for 253

yards and a touchdown and he added 26 rushing yards on four carries. With his nine-yard touchdown

pass to running back Austin Ekeler in the second quarter, Herbert set a record for the most passing

touchdowns by a rookie in NFL history with 28, breaking the previous record of 27 set by Baker Mayfield

in 2018.

Herbert only needs six completions to set an NFL rookie record for most completions and 341 yards

passing to set the record for most passing yards by a rookie. Herbert has thrown for 4,034 yards in 14

games, averaging 288.1 yards per game. Regarding the rookie touchdown record, Herbert was

nonchalant, telling reporters that the record is a, "Pretty cool statistic. Just glad we got the win."

Herbert is among nine quarterbacks in the NFL that have thrown for over 4,000 yards this season, a

group that also includes former Charger great Philip Rivers, who has thrown for 4,005 yards this season

with the Indianapolis Colts. It is the eighth consecutive season that Rivers has thrown for over 4,000

yards and the 12 th time in the past 13 years he has thrown for over 4,000 yards.

The Chargers jumped out to a 13-0 halftime lead and led 16-3 early in the fourth quarter when an old

familiar pattern struck the Chargers: They failed to hold another double-digit lead. The Broncos came

back with three fourth quarter scoring drives to tie the game at 16-16 with just 2:42 left in the game.

But Herbert answered with a seven play, 56-yard drive scoring drive, which culminated in a game

winning 37-yard field goal from kicker Michael Badgley with just 41 seconds remaining. The Chargers

defense held with wide receiver Mike Williams ending the game with an interception of a Hail Mary pass

from Bronco quarterback Drew Lock. Badgley ended up connecting on four field goal in the game.

Coach Lynn was pleased with the victory: "I thought it was a hard-fought game and a good team win.

It took all three phases to win that game and we needed them playing the Broncos. We knew it was

going to be physical. Our offense made plays when they needed to make plays. Our defense bended but

did not break. I credit all three phases for that win, and I thought the players hung in and did a good job"

Lynn is correct that all three phases played well, at times, but the Chargers were fortunate that

Bronco rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy dropped five passes in the game, including a certain touchdown

pass from Lock and were also fortunate that Bronco kicker Brandon McManus missed a 37-yard field

goal, his first miss from inside 40 yards since Week 5 of the 2017 season.

Lock also threw an ill-advised interception in the red zone to Chargers corner Casey Hayward, costing

the Broncos at least three points. Bronco head coach Vic Fangio bemoaned the missed opportunities in

the game: "You know, that's six points right there, at least. We got to come up with points when you get

into the other team's territory, and obviously we didn't do a good job of that today."

For the Chargers, this was the sixth time this season that they had blown a double-digit lead in a

game, and the second time this season to the Broncos. In the previous matchup in Denver, the Chargers

had a 24-3 third quarter lead and lost 31-30. The Broncos have been down by ten points or more in 9 of

their 15 games this season, and only twice have they come back from that deficit, with both games

coming against the Chargers.

The Broncos have lost five games this season by 18 points or more. They had another game against

Atlanta in which they were down 27-6 after three quarters, but they came back to make the final score

look respectable, losing 34-27. The Chargers have one game that falls into that category, the 45-0 loss to

the Patriots. The Chargers have a 5-7 record this season in games decided by one score.

The Chargers inability to hold on to double digit lead is an issue that they will need to address in the

offseason. They seem to take their foot off the gas in games and good teams will do that, such as their

next opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs. But the Chargers are not the Chiefs, at least not this season. The

Chiefs have a 14-1 record, the best in the NFL.

As mentioned above, the Chargers take on the Chiefs in Kansas City in the season finale. The Chargers

CHARGERS

Charger's receiver Jalen Guyton caught three passes for 43 yards last Sunday against the Broncos

will look to end their season on a four-game winning streak and hopefully give them something to feel

good about in the offseason. The Chiefs have clinched homefield advantage in the AFC playoffs and will

not need to leave Kansas City unless they are headed to Tampa, Florida to play in Super Bowl 55.

The Chiefs may rest some of their starters and they do not have anything on the line in this game. Tight

end Travis Kelce leads the NFL in receiving yardage and he could become the first tight end in NFL

history to lead in that category, so he likely will play. The game will start at 10 a.m. Sunday, January 3 rd ,

2021 and will be televised on Channel 2. It would not be surprising to see records set by both Kelce and

Herbert on Sunday.

 

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