Culver City Observer -

By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Chargers will look to extend their winning streak against the Seahawks

 

October 20, 2022

George Laase

Charger quarterback Justin Herbert hands the ball off to running back Austin Ekeler during their win over Denver last Monday night.

It may have been ugly, and it may have been exasperating at times for Los Angeles Charger fans, but the Chargers somehow found a way to defeat the Denver Broncos on Monday Night in overtime, 19-16. The game was played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. Kicker Dustin Hopkins, despite a hamstring strain, kicked a 39-yard field goal in overtime to win the game. Hopkins made all four of his field goal attempts.

It was the third consecutive victory for the Chargers. The Chargers improved to 4-2 with the victory and are tied with the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets for the second-best record in the AFC. The Buffalo Bills have the best record in the AFC at 5-1. The Chargers are 2-1 in the AFC West and are tied for first place with the Chiefs. The Denver Broncos fell to 2-4 on the season, and 0-2 in the AFC West.

The Chargers will be at home again next Sunday, October 23rd, to take on the Seattle Seahawks at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The game is scheduled to start at 1:25 pm. The Seahawks are 3-3 on the season and tied with the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers for first place in the NFC West.

As former Jet head coach Herm Edwards once said, "You play to win the game." A sentiment Charger head coach Brandon Staley would fully embrace. The Chargers won at Cleveland in Week 5 on a missed field goal by the Browns in the closing seconds of the game and beat the Broncos in overtime with a field goal in Week 6. The games are that close each week. Getting to 4-2 has not been easy with the injuries the Chargers have suffered, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

The Chargers were again without pro bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen, who has missed five games with a hamstring pull. Pro Bowl center Corey Linsley missed the Bronco game with an illness and pro bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater is out with a biceps injury. Running back Joshua Kelly is out for the next 2-4 weeks with a MCL sprain and kicker Dustin Hopkins will miss the next 2-4 weeks with a hamstring strain.

Tight end Donald Parham is in the concussion protocol after making his debut and catching 3 passes for 53 yards, while playing just 19 snaps. With speedy wide receiver Jalen Guyton out for the season with an ACL knee injury, the Chargers need Parham to help stretch the field. Against a tough Bronco defense, the Chargers had a difficult time getting receivers open and rookie guard Zion Johnson had three holding calls in the game, the worst game of his young career.

"That's a good team over there," Staley said of the Broncos after the game on Monday night. "Every one of their games this season has been down to the wire, all of them, and that was what it was today. The fact that we're able to show our resilience in all three phases, and then be able to finish that game on our home field in front of our fans, I'm really proud of our group today."

The Chargers never led in the game until the end. Both teams struggled on offense. The Broncos jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead, scoring on their first two offensive possessions. Former UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich, a third-round pick of the Broncos in the 2022 NFL draft, caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Russell Wilson for the only Broncos lone touchdown of the game. Dulcich missed the first five games this season with an injury and was playing in his first regular season game as a pro.

Charger quarterback Justin Herbert completed 37 of 57 pass attempts for 238 yards, no touchdowns, and a fourth quarter interception. A mediocre performance from the pro bowl quarterback. Herbert had thrown at least one touchdown pass in the prior 26 games and the 57 passes without a touchdown was a record for most passes in a winning effort without a touchdown pass. Running back Austin Ekeler had the lone Charger touchdown on a six-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

The Broncos had two offensive possessions in the overtime and the Chargers three offensive possessions and neither team was able to produce a first down. The Chargers had a first down on their 25 yard-line with 1:51 left in regulation and had all three timeouts available to use. They ran seven offensive plays and gained a total of 19 yards as the clock ran down to end the fourth quarter.

After all of the offensive futility from both teams, the game was finally decided on a muffed punt. Denver's Montrell Washington muffed a punt from JK Scott which was recovered by Charger rookie Deane Leonard on the Broncos 28-yard line. That setup the winning kick from Hopkins.

George Laase

Charger linebacker Drue Tranquill blitzes up the middle untouched to sack Denver quarterback Russell Wilson on Monday Night football.

The Chargers special teams came through in this game, with a fumble recovery, some towering punts from Scott, and the gutsy kicking of Hopkins, who would fall over in pain after each field goal attempt. Linebacker Drue Tranquil had two key sacks and eight tackles in the game, safety Derwin James had ten tackles and a sack, and linebacker Khalil Mack added a sack and constant pressure. As Staley said after the game, "Our defense came to play tonight."

The Seahawks defeated the Broncos, 17-16, in Week 1. They have proven to be very competitive, led by quarterback Geno Smith, who played with the Chargers in 2018. Smith is the No. 3 rated quarterback in the NFL though six games. The Chargers have their bye week after the Seahawks game, so a win over the Seahawks would put the Chargers in good shape going into the bye week.

 

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