By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Chargers battle the Giants after big road win against Cincinnati

 

December 9, 2021

Jevone Moore

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler and the rest of the running backs will need to gain more yards in the next five regular season games to take pressure off of quarterback Justin Herbert.

The Los Angeles Chargers arrived in Cincinnati having lost four of their last six games and facing a Bengal team that was 7-4 and playing good football. The talented Chargers were coming off a lackluster performance at Denver against the Broncos the week before in a 28-13 loss. As Hall of Fame football coach Bill Parcells once said, "You lose with potential. You win with performance." The Chargers had not been performing well as of late.

The talented Chargers team showed up on Sunday in Cincinnati and performed well. The defense came up with four turnovers and six sacks, and Charger quarterback Justin Herbert completed 26 of 35 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns to lift the Chargers to a 41-22 victory. The win improved the Chargers record to 7-5 for the season and dropped the Bengals to 7-5 for the season.

Because of the victory, the Chargers own the tiebreaker over the Bengals if both end up with the same record, which could become critical in a battle for a wild-card playoff berth. At this point in the season, every win gets the Chargers one step closer to the playoffs and every loss, one step further away. The Chargers control their own destiny. If they win their final five games, they win the division and will host a playoff game.


The Chargers came out with a lot energy and a sense of urgency against the Bengals. That type of energy seemed to be lacking in recent weeks. They scored on four of their first five possessions to take a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter. The defense shut down the high-flying Bengal offense led by second year quarterback Joe Burrow and running back Joe Mixon.


Herbert completed a 41-yard pass to wide receiver Mike Williams on the first drive, setting up a four-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Keenan Allen. With the Chargers leading 9-0, Herbert completed another deep pass to Williams for 47 yards, which set up a seven-yard touchdown pass to Allen to give the Chargers a 16-0 lead after one quarter of play.

In the second quarter, with the Chargers at the Bengal 44-yard line, Herbert launched a deep ball from the right sideline about 53 yards from the endzone to the left sideline in the endzone where Jalen Guyton outmuscled a defender for the touchdown. It was an amazing throw that few quarterbacks would attempt and could complete. To add to that play, Herbert then caught a pass from Allen for the two-point conversion, giving the Chargers a 24-0 lead.


The Bengals came back to cut the lead to 24-22 after three quarters. Early in the 4th quarter, with the Bengals in Chargers territory, the Chargers got the defensive play of the game and maybe the season. Mixon fumbled on second-and-2 from the Chargers' 34-yard line. Cornerback Tevaughn Campbell picked the ball up and ran 61 yards for a touchdown. That gave the Chargers a 31-22 lead and a two-score lead. The Bengals never recovered from that turnover.

Charger head coach Brandon Staley was elated with his team's performance. "Our execution and our energy was fantastic in the game," said Staley. "Then there was the middle stretch that was tough for us, which was completely our doing. But then in the fourth quarter, we finished the game playing our best. It was 17-0 in the fourth quarter."

Staley continued, adding that, "We finished the game playing our best football as a team, and I really liked the way we executed in the fourth quarter to really put that game away. I felt like it was a team win in every aspect."

The Chargers came out aggressively on offense, which can be seen in the first three touchdown drives of the game, which each had a completed pass of more than forty yards. While the Chargers still need to commit to the running game a bit more because Herbert was sacked four times. A solid running game can take a lot of pressure Herbert. But they were very persistent in the passing game.

Staley agreed about the need to be aggressive on offense. "The way we came out offensively is our type of recipe," said Staley. "We got the ball to Mike (Williams) in the deep part of the field. We were aggressive in the deep part of the field today, and we had a lot of different types of passes. They turned it up a bit in the third quarter. They've got a good defense over there. They really do. But I really felt like Justin (Herbert) controlled the game today and made a lot of big plays in the passing game."

The Chargers have five remaining games, three at home against the New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Denver Broncos. The road games are at Houston against the Texans on December 26th, and against the Raiders in Las Vegas. Not a daunting schedule for the Chargers, but in the NFL, every game is tough, and nothing should be assumed.

The Chargers will greet the Giants at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood next Sunday, December 12, 2021, in a game that will start at 1:05 PM PST. The game will be televised on FOX. The Giants have struggled this season. They are 4-8 and in last place in the NFC East. The Giants will likely be without starting quarterback Daniel Jones, who has a neck injury.

Backup quarterback Mike Glennon has a concussion and may also miss the game. Jake Fromm, recently acquired from the Buffalo Bills practice squad, would be the starting quarterback for the Giants if both Jones and Glennon are ruled out. Fromm has never thrown an NFL pass in a regular season game.

The Giants are 28th in scoring at 17.6 points per game and rank 26th in rushing yardage per game at 90.8 yards per game. They do not have a running back on the roster that averages more than forty yards per game. The Giants are going to need a running game if they hope to win this game next Sunday.

A win over the Giants gets the Chargers a date with destiny against the Chiefs four days after their game against the Giants on Thursday Night at SoFi Stadium. That game could decide the division winner in the AFC West. The Chargers beat the Chiefs in Kansas City earlier this season and another win would give them a sweep of the season series and the advantage in a tiebreaker for the division title. With a playoff berth and division title at stake, the Chargers need to play the way they did in Cincinnati to make the postseason.

 

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