It took about an extra quarter, but the Chargers edged out their West Asian rival on Monday night. Neither team had much success with the ball in his hands under the spotlight, with Justin Herbert scattering as he bowled nearly 60 times, and Russell Wilson struggling to connect in midfield after his best opener in a game with Denver. However, in the end, Brandon Staley’s side got the best of Nathaniel Hackett, with a faltering recovery from a late kick late in overtime giving Los Angeles the ball deep into the Broncos. Kicker Dustin Hopkins sealed the deal, hitting a 39-yard field goal in the Chargers’ 19-16 win, even after considering a worsening injury on his first kick of the night.
Both teams entered the prime-time issue with major question marks. Denver struggled hard to establish an offensive rhythm despite a long-awaited Wilson-Hackett side, losing their back-to-back superstar Jafonte Williams to a season-ending injury in Week 4. 10 for 10, only to reappear after that.
The Chargers, meanwhile, failed to score a consistent defensive display despite Staley’s stoop from that side of the ball. Their effort against Denver was improved, even with a hasty Joey Bossa pass on the sidelines due to injury and his off-season value as well as JC Jackson off the bench at the end of the first half after surrendering several deep shots from Wilson.
Here are some additional points from Monday night’s showdown in West Asia:
Why did the charger win
Dustin Hopkins. Well, there was more to it, but no one deserves more credit than the veteran, who missed Week 5 with a hamstring injury, compounded that injury on his first extra point of the night, then moved on to 4v. -4 in field goals, including a 39-yarder to give the Charger the first and last lead. He was clearly in pain, but he gave birth.
Justin Herbert deserves credit for Hopkins’ reasonably close approach to the latter series, although the quarterback was a little more choppy and hesitant than usual, working on a seemingly conservative game plan and without several key players, such as receiver Kenan Allen and quarterback Corey Linsley. Although Austin Eckeler packed all night, at least he was a steady port, scoring 10 catches to help move the ball into the water and dipping lanes.
The defense was better, with perhaps his most impressive game of the year, albeit against a Bronco side that proved stuck in the mud. The unit amassed seven tackles for loss as Wilson drilled into several key touchdown points, with linebacker Drue Tranquill catching fire in a blitzkrieg in the fourth quarter to force a kick. Special teams came in too, with Ja’Sir Taylor cleverly forcing Broncos Special Player PJ Locke back in, Montrell Washington. The play forced ills that led to the creation of the Denver-area supercharger’s ultimate charging engine.
Why did the Broncos lose?
It would be easy to pin this on to Washington, the novice returner, who failed to secure a fair-hunting kick late in overtime, but anyone who’s watched it from start to finish knows that this “L”—equivalent to the course—broke up just as much, if not Not more, than Hackett’s offense. Wilson looked the most comfortable of the year out of the gate, hitting the ball down on the go, but deep balls to KJ Hamler — or anyone, for that matter — short-lived. Among the 10 penalty kicks, Denver went petty 4 to 14 in the third defeat, failing to engage Cortland Sutton or Jerry Judy when it mattered. It didn’t help that Wilson had so little time to throw or catch the ball so long late in the competition, or that Hackett sporadically deployed Mike Boone, which appears to be the most dynamic of the remaining props to fill in for Javonte Williams.
It’s a shame Denver was again unable to move the ball and/or finish driving after a promising start, as the team’s defense threatened to win the same game. With six of their own tackles to lose, nine pass deflections and a superb performance from star cornerback Patrick Sertin II, who effectively wiped Mike Williams out of Herbert’s sight, the Denver “D” could only watch as time went on and couldn’t be attacked. Don’t put dots on the board.
No doubt it happened when Jacir Taylor prevented his man from entering Montreal Washington on the punt’s return flight. But you might also say that it happened when Herbert moved out of the pocket for a nine-yard strike to Mike Williams who set up the 39-yard Hopkins game. Herbert, again, was not having a nice night, especially in a traffic jam with just over 10 minutes remaining in the regulations, and was criticized by Baron Browning. But he was on target in the final minutes of extra time, and that’s all that matters.
play the game
It’s Taylor again. Give the special team some credit! Had the officials reviewed one of Mike Williams’ few goals on the field, in which he set and came close to two feet while descending to the ground, this might have been the highlight of the night. But Taylor’s awareness of the need to prevent the Broncos from entering a hidden kick was key.
The Broncos (2-4) will return home in week seven for a game with the Red Hot (4-2), which upset the Packers in Green Bay on Sunday. Meanwhile, The Chargers (4-2) will remain in Los Angeles to host the Seahawks (3-3), who beat rival Cardinal to stay tied for the top of the NFC West.
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