The Los Angeles Chargers mounted an impressive fourth-quarter rally against the Denver Broncos on Monday night. Unfortunately for Bolts Nation, they were unable to come away with a win in the Mile High air. Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo’s field goal was blocked with one second remaining, and the team found themselves on the wrong side of a heartbreaking 24-21 loss on opening night.
The AFC West is Good…Really Good
One can make the argument that the AFC West will be the toughest division in the NFL for 2017. The Chargers and Broncos certainly did much to further that claim with a hard-fought divisional contest last night on Monday Night Football. Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian definitely looked ‘better than average’ in scoring three total touchdowns. The first, of which, stemmed from a 13-play, 70-yard drive to wide receiver Bennie Fowler. Not to be outdone, Bolts’ signal-called Philip Rivers, used a 40-yard defensive pass interference penalty and a heavy dose of running back Melvin Gordon to score the Chargers’ first points of 2017. Gordon touched the ball six times on a nine-play drive, including an 11-yard touchdown reception from Rivers to open the second quarter. Just like that, the score was tied at seven.
The Broncos responded with their second scoring drive of the game, this time a one-yard touchdown rush from Siemian. The Broncos defense lived up to the hype, and held the high-flying Bolts offense to seven points in the first half. Denver took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
On the Chargers’ first possession of the second half, Rivers was intercepted by cornerback Bradley Roby at the Los Angeles’ 43-yard line. Just six plays later, Siemian hooked up with Fowler for a six-yard touchdown — his second of the game — to make it 21-7 Broncos after a Brandon McManus extra point. All of a sudden, Rivers was being out-dueled by Siemian and the Broncos looked well on their way to a victory.
Don’t Call it a Comeback
While it didn’t exactly embody the drama of Super Bowl LI, the Chargers refused to quit and showed the Broncos that every minute counts. Their furious comeback attempt started in the fourth quarter. After an Adrian Phillips interception, Rivers found wide receiver Keenan Allen for a five-yard touchdown. On the next possession, linebacker Korey Toomer stripped running back Jamaal Charles of the football. Bolts cornerback Casey Hayward recovered and the Chargers had power restored. One play later, Rivers connected with wide receiver Travis Benjamin for a 38-yard touchdown. Like a lightening strike, the Broncos lead had been cut to 24-21.
Of course, the block of Koo’s field goal attempt ended the hopes for a week one victory. Despite falling short, the Chargers showed plenty of mettle in their comeback attempt. They also helped to justify the optimism that Chargers Nation has for this team. As they gear up for their home opener against the Miami Dolphins this Sunday, head coach Anthony Lynn is making sure that the team takes plenty of pride home with them from Denver. After the game, Lynn had this to say about his team:
“Every man in that locker room is hurting. They never stopped fighting. I’m proud of each player in that room.”
However, it cannot be ignored that the Chargers will need to play a more complete game, and show more discipline if they hope to beat the Dolphins in week 2.
The Bottom Line
The Chargers managed to put up some impressive stats in their season opener. Gordon finished the game with 18 carries for 54 yards, and five receptions for 25 yards and a touchdown. Allen caught five passes for 35 yards and a touchdown. Rivers went 22-of-33 for 192 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. Defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram each had 1.5 sacks. However, Antonio Gates was unable to snag that elusive touchdown that will make him the all-time leader in career touchdowns by a tight end. Perhaps the friendly confines of StubHub Center will be the perfect venue for Gates to make history?Chargers Fans everywhere definitely hope that is the case.
The Chargers’ home opener is this Sunday, Sept. 17th against the Miami Dolphins at StubHub Center. Kickoff is at 1:05 p.m. PT. the game will be broadcast on CBS.
– Mike D’Abate is the Managing Editor for cover32.com/Chargers and covers the Los Angeles Chargers.