CARSON, Calif. — Considered one of the strengths of this year’s team, the Los Angeles Chargers had struggled on defense so far this season.
Entering Sunday’s contest, the Chargers had allowed 30 points a game — much worse than the 17.3 points per contest the Chargers held teams to last season.
But behind a dominant performance by edge rusher Melvin Ingram, the Chargers easily handled the visiting Oakland Raiders 26-10 at StubHub Center in a stadium dominated by silver-and-black-clad Raiders fans.
“When we don’t give teams anything and make teams go through us I think we’re a tough team to beat,” coach Anthony Lynn said.
With the win, the Chargers improved to 3-2, pushing above the .500 mark for the first time this year as they prepare to hit the road to face the Cleveland Browns in Week 6. It’s the Bolts’ best start since 2014.
“We aren’t happy yet,” Ingram said. “We have a long way to go. We’re just trying to build stepping stones. We are just trying to put wins on top of wins and try to get to our ultimate goal, and that is to win a championship.”
Ingram led the Chargers in tackles with seven, had a sack and corralled an interception in the end zone to stop a promising Oakland drive.
“You expect him to do that,” Chargers defensive tackle Brandon Mebane said about Ingram. “He’s a good athlete, one of the best athletes on the defense. That’s something he’s always doing, so I’m not surprised, and I’m happy for him that he’s making plays.”
The South Carolina product now has two career picks, notching his first interception during the 2013 playoffs on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The talented Ingram also got to touch the ball on offense but fell short of the end zone on a fullback dive from a yard out in the first half.
The Chargers forced two Oakland turnovers and held the Raiders to 289 total yards on offense. The Raiders converted just 4 of 11 third downs.
“I thought the defense did a helluva job on third downs,” Lynn said. “Getting off the field is something that we’ve been struggling with and today I thought they did a helluva job.”
While the Chargers smothered Oakland defensively, Philip Rivers and the offense played efficient football. Rivers completed 22 of 27 passing for 339 yards and two touchdown passes, including a 44-yard pitch and catch to running back Austin Ekeler.
Ekeler’s running mate Melvin Gordon finished with 120 yards from scrimmage and a 1-yard touchdown run.