A kicker with a bad leg.
An overtime that didn’t see a single first down.
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson looking wicked in the first quarter and washed the rest of the way.
A penalty every third play…at least that’s what it felt like.
The Los Angeles Chargers got a game-winning 39-yard field goal from Dustin Hopkins in overtime Monday night to beat the Broncos, 19-16, in one of the weirdest games you’ll ever see. And for the Chargers, that’s saying something.
Hopkins, who missed last week with a bad quad, clearly pulled a muscle in his leg on his first extra point. Every time the Chargers needed him to kick a field goal, he would do it, crumple to the ground, and get back up.
It was odd. Not quite as odd as his post-game interview where he claimed not to know how long any of the kicks were, but odd.
It was that kind of night at SoFi Stadium. Odd.
But the Chargers wake up this morning tied for the lead in the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs, both teams two games up on the rest. The Chargers host Seattle on Sunday and then head into their bye week.
A Push, A Shove, A Muff
By the time the game got to overtime, a couple of things were clear, the Chargers were scared to throw the ball down the field, and the Broncos and Wilson were incapable of throwing the ball down the field.
Tied at 16, overtime was a punt fest. Then an unlikely hero emerged.
JK Scott’s punt hung up in the overtime. Broncos return man Montrell Washington stepped forward to grab it and signaled a fair catch, Chargers backup rookie defensive back Ja’Sir Taylor was the gunner coming down.
Broncos safety P.J. Locke stood his ground in front of Washington, not knowing how close he was behind him.
So Taylor did the smartest thing he could do.
He pushed Locke into Washington.
The timing was incredible, because Washington fell back, the punt hit him in the stomach, so it was a muff. Deane Leonard fell on the ball for Los Angeles.
It was a completely legal move, because it wasn’t Taylor who hit Washington, it was Locke.
After three horrible offensive plays (that was the theme), Hopkins made the field goal.
So just like we all expected, Ja’Sir Taylor was the real hero Monday night.
A Scuffling Offense Or Two
In my notes watching the game I wrote in all caps for the Chargers: EVERY PASS IS SHORT.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has one of the best arms in the NFL. On the Hail Mary at the end of regulation, he threw the ball 55 yards in the air, off balance.
Yet Monday night, everything was wide and short. He threw the ball 57 times (completed 37) for 238 yards. That’s 4.1 yards per attempt.
Herbert was sacked twice and pressured plenty. The offensive line had some serious communication issues, made worse when backup center Will Clapp went out for a little while late in the game.
Of course, the Broncos were no better. Russell Wilson looks like a lead singer playing in the wrong band. He has no relationship with his wide receivers. The timing is always off. Clearly, they’re frustrated with him and vice versa.
Buyer beware in the NFL. The Seahawks look like they knew what they are doing when they let Wilson go.
Let’s Play Flag Football
Another amazing stat from Monday night? Broncos defensive back Damarri Mathis was called for pass interference four separate times.
The teams combined for 240 yards of penalties. The Broncos were flagged 10 times, the Chargers were flagged nine.
But I don’t know what pass interference is anymore, much less roughing the passer. The Broncos got called for a roughing the passer penalty even though Herbert never even hit the ground on the play.
There were a couple of times I thought Mathis did a good job in pass coverage. You always hear the line, “he has to turn back for the ball.” He did. Sure, maybe he had a hand on a jersey, but what the heck? Is he not supposed to be able to touch the wide receiver at all?
I can understand the players and coaches frustration because different officiating crews call it differently. The rules are so nebulous that they can be interpreted any way. That’s the same thing happening with roughing the passer. Now it seems like any hard contact on a quarterback is too much. It’s football. What’s a defender supposed to do?
Did You Notice?
Where was Josh Kelley for the Chargers? After a good game against the Browns last week (10 carries for 49 yards), I only remember him in on one series. He had no carries as Sony Michel filled in as the Chargers second back.
I agreed with Troy Aikman at the end of regulation, why didn’t Herbert throw the ball out to Zander Horvath in the flat for the first down. It looked like it was there.
Two games, one stadium in 24 hours, two totally different approaches. I wrote about this in the Rams/Panthers recap. Panthers had a chance to move the ball at the end of the half and spend their timeouts. They chose not to. The Broncos had almost the exact same situation and were aggressive and ended up kicking a field goal.
How often do you see a football player have an interception and a fumble recovery on the same play? It happened for the Broncos Baron Browning in the fourth quarter. He grabbed a Herbert pass on a tip drill, started to run, had the ball knocked away and recovered his own fumble.
The Broncos font on the back of the jerseys make it look like Patrick Surtain’s name is Surtain 11 (eleven) not Surtain the second.
Will Clapp and Zion Johnson should each get an assist on the Chargers lone touchdown, they helped push Austin Ekeler into the end zone.
Amazing how we don’t even think of it now, but the Chargers had to use silent snap count for much of the game with the crown noise coming from the Bronco fans.
Any veteran offensive linemen looking for a job should be on the next flight to Los Angeles. The Chargers and Rams both need them.
I loved whoever was bonking the beach ball in front of the ESPN cameras in the fourth quarter.