By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
In consecutive weeks the Los Angeles Chargers will be facing an AFC East opponent in the Buffalo Bills. Though the Chargers are currently on a 4 game win streak against the Bills in Buffalo, these Bills come into this matchup leading their division and boasting a 7-3 record on the season. Whereas the Chargers snapped a 3 game losing streak with their win last week over the New York Jets.
That Chargers victory over the Jets came with some record-breaking performances. Keenan Allen, in his eighth season, became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 600 receptions behind a team-record 16 catches on 19 targets. His young quarterback Justin Herbert also threw 277 yards in the first half along with his fifth performance with three-plus touchdown passes each is an NFL record for rookie quarterbacks.
The Bills quarterback, Josh Allen, will be coming into this game at the top of his game. He has 21 passing touchdowns, a touchdown catch, and a team-leading five rushing touchdowns. According to Anthony Lynn, “They have an MVP quarterback; who is full of confidence” when asked about their offense. In regards to their defense, Lynn said, “They have a lot of playmakers on their defense… Sixteen different players have a sack on their football team.”
Though the Chargers would be without notable veterans Melvin Ingram, Casey Hayward, and Uchenna Nwosu on defense. Their offense would welcome the return of four-year starter Austin Ekeler to the lineup in replacement of Kalen Ballage. Ekeler has not seen live game action since their week 4 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After exchanging touchdowns in the first quarter, the Bills ran up 17 unanswered points on the Chargers between the second and third quarter including a 4 yard TD run by Josh Allen. That TD run by Allen gave him his 6th rushing TD of the season, which leads his team. The Chargers finally responded with a 1 yard TD from Joshua Kelley TD and 2 point conversion catch by Keenan Allen midway through the third quarter.
After a forced fumble by reserve linebacker Nick Vigil, the Chargers were able to kick a 27-yard field goal and narrow the Bills’ lead to seven points early in the fourth quarter. Joey Bosa would recover a fumble on a botched snap by the Bills, though the Chargers offense would not be able to convert this turnover into points before punting. Shortly after that, as in the next series, Mike Davis of the Chargers picked off an errant pass by Allen. Unfortunately, Herbert returned the favor by throwing his only interception of the game, which lead to a Bills field goal that extended their lead to 10 points with under 3:30 remaining in the game.
This game ended up being a reversal of fortunes for the Chargers as their defense was able to get the offense three turnovers at opportune times, though the offense was only able to muster up 3 points off said turnovers. Their 17 points total, in this game, was only the third time all season that they have scored less than 20 points in a game, after having scored over 21 points in 7 consecutive games. In four of those 7 games, the Chargers scored over 30 points. Head Coach Anthony Lynn opened up his post-game press conference saying, “We were out of sync a little bit… I thought they did a good mixing up their pressures and making us adjust at the line of scrimmage.” When asked about challenges the Chargers had on the offensive side of the ball, Justine Herbert simply said, “We just didn’t execute today.”
Joey Bosa was visibly sour during his post-game press conference, although he surpassed the late Hall of Fame Linebacker Junior Seau to move into 5th place on the All-Time Chargers sack list. You could tell he wasn’t thrilled with the game’s outcome as he stated, “I really, really wanted to pull this one out, it’s hard to feel excited to after such a tough game like that.” He added, “We did a good job, but if you lose you obviously could do more!”
Going deeper into Joey’s big game vs the Bills, not only did he set a single-game career-high with three sacks. He became the first player to register three sacks, five QB hits, five tackles for loss, a pass deflected, and recover a fumble. Additionally, he joined only 2 others by recording three sacks, five QB hits, and break up a pass, and have a fumble recovery in a single game since quarterback hits began being tracked.
Also worth noting, even in the losses, is the continued stellar play of Justin Herbert. He has eclipsed Andrew Luck (2,965) for the 2nd-most pass yards in a player’s first 10 career games as well as has tied Luck (6 in 2012) for the most games with 300+ pass yards by a rookie in NFL history and the Super Bowl era. Just as impressive as either of those stats, Herbert has joined Patrick Mahomes as the only players since 1950 with 3,000+ pass yards in their first 10 career starts and humbly he’d give props to his teammates and coaches for his immediate success.
Even with these historic performances, the Chargers have found yet another way to lose a game. Though it wasn’t the special teams’ miscues or the defense giving up big plays, strangely it was the inability to score points and capitalize on the turnovers, which hasn’t happened many times this season, but let them down on Sunday vs the Buffalo Bills.
With the season winding down, it will be interesting to see how the veterans and this coaching staff will be able to hold things together and build unity and chemistry for next season. Kindly share your thoughts on how you see this team finishing this season. I can be reached at @whatsgoodnsport on Twitter or you can forward any suggestions on what topics or angles you’d like to see things discussed to email@example.com.
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