The Chargers scored two touchdowns on offense this week against the Broncos, but apart from that, there was not too much to celebrate. Other than those two drives, there was only one drive that reached 6 plays or more. This was when they tried to run it in from the 1… four times… The less said about that, the better.
Casey Hayward came up big by intercepting Trevor Siemian on a 4th down attempt by Denver. This stopped the Broncos during their best drive of the game, trying to make their way back into the ball game, early in the 4th quarter. In hindsight, with it being 4th down, Hayward could have just battered the ball down but with the Chargers up 14-0, no one should be complaining too much. It leaves Philip Rivers starting back inside his own 10-yard line.
1st and 10 at LAC 8 (11 Personnel)
Rookie Austin Ekeler is in at running back. He takes the handoff from the right of Rivers in the shotgun formation. A designed zone left. Ekeler hits the huge hole because of brilliant blocking. From Left Guard, Dan Feeney pulls round the Left Tackle to cap off the Edge rusher. Russell Okung cuts off the Defensive Tackle and Hunter Henry gets a good push on the Defensive Back. All of this equates to an easy first down to get the Bolts out of their goal line.
1st and 10 at LAC 19 (11 Personnel)
Another shotgun run but this time it’s directed straight behind the Center, Spencer Pulley. Von Miller comes around the Edge, unblocked, and makes a good athletic play taking down Ekeler for a minimal gain.
2nd and 9 at LAC 20 (21 Personnel)
An interesting double running back set with Derek Watt to right of Rivers in shotgun and Ekeler to the left. Derek Watt tries to lead the way by making a partial block on Miller. The offensive line all zone block towards the left apart from Pulley, who pulls to the right to engage with the Linebacker. Ekeler tries to make a cut, however he becomes unbalanced and falls into the pile for three yards.
3rd and 6 at LAC 23
Through the game thus far, the Chargers are 1 for 9 on third downs. Not really a good time to get a delay of game penalty then, eh?
Oh, and then they have to waste a timeout when the clock runs down, AGAIN.
3rd and 11 at LAC 18 (11 Personnel)
Third time lucky? Chargers line up in shotgun, trips right. From the slot, Henry runs a simple hook route, just past the sticks. It’s great coverage from the DB, but it’s a perfectly placed ball from Rivers and Henry displays his great hands which we’re getting used to seeing. The Tight End celebrates with a solitary flex, is this becoming a thing now? (See: Anthony Lynn when the Chargers attempted a 4th down earlier in the game). No flex from Rivers, just a double fist punch into the air. A huge conversion for the team.
1st and 10 at LAC 31 (11 Personnel)
Melvin Gordon certainly didn’t have the best day of his career, and this kind of sums it up. A zone left run from shotgun. It’s starts off well. He brushes past a blitzing Bronco defender in the backfield, which the OL failed to pick up. From then, he bounces it to the outside where he can’t beat the corner 1 on 1 and doesn’t gain a yard.
2nd and 10 at LAC 31 (11 Personnel)
The Chargers get tricky! Rivers fakes the handoff to Ekeler and Benjamin takes it on the end around. He beats one defender, but runs out of bounds before any contact, another thing Chargers’ fans have become accustom too.
3rd and 6 at LAC 35 (11 Personnel)
Keenan Allen didn’t seem to get too much separation from the Broncos’ secondary all day but on this one it’s clear to see why. Allen starts to run a slant, he makes a sharp cutback and Bradley Roby grabs his jersey. Yellows fly, and the Chargers have another first.
1st and 10 at LAC 38 (11 Personnel)
Now, this is an example of the Melvin Gordon we love to see. Very good blocking by the line. Firstly, Pulley and Wiggins double down on the DT. Wiggins then cuts off the ‘backer. To their right, Schofield holds strong against the Edge. Gordon shows great patience on the shotgun run, waits for the hole to develop, and flies through it. A 21-yard rush, easily his best run of the day.
1st and 10 at DEN 41 (22 Personnel)
Finally, we see a run from under center, although it doesn’t go too well. Watt leads Gordon on a strong iso right comeback. Watt makes his block, but a Linebacker is free to make the tackle limiting the run to a short gain.
2nd and 8 at DEN 39 (12 Personnel)
A simple iso run from under center. The Broncos DT bowls over Kenny Wiggins and this play is a bust from the off. Gordon had no chance.
3rd and 11 at DEN 42 (11 Personnel)
Third 3rd down of the drive, not before another wasted timeout. The Bolts line up with trips left. Benjamin in the middle of those three runs a simple slant. With acres of space Rivers finds him in stride. The nickel corner is playing off Benjamin, he then gets picked by Allen’s route downfield and is pretty much out of the play as soon as it starts. The speedster paces past him, and the safety for an easy, but beautiful play for a 42-yard touchdown. Travis Benjamin’s best game in a Chargers jersey, for sure.
10 plays; 8 runs and 2 passes. 92 yards in 6:53 to seal the game.
It wasn’t perfect. They wasted two timeouts and had a delay of game penalty but had more than enough against the Broncos. In this drive, and in the overall game.
-Thomas Herd is a cover32 Staff Writer and covers the Los Angeles Chargers for cover32.com/Chargers. Follow him on Twitter @chargers_uk.
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