LOS ANGELES — Philip Rivers isn’t picky — he just throws to the guy who’s open.
But more often this season that guy is second-year pro Mike Williams, who continued his bounce-back year by finishing with four catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns in the Los Angeles Chargers‘ 35-23 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
With speedster Travis Benjamin missing his second straight game due to a foot injury, Williams was targeted a team-high seven times, as Rivers looked to get the ball to his big-bodied target in the middle of the field.
According to NFL Next Gen stats, all three of Williams’ scores this season have been on tight window throws (a yard or less of separation). A.J. Green (2) is the only other player with multiple tight window receiving touchdowns.
“He’s going to continue to do this,” said Rivers, pointing his hand upward when asked about Williams. “Gosh, he played big and strong, and made a handful of big plays, and obviously the touchdowns. He’s going to continue to be more of a factor for us.”
Phillip Rivers throws a pass to Mike Williams, who lays out for the touchdown to get the Chargers on the board.
Rivers connected with Williams on the Chargers first score, a 42-yard pitch-and-catch on a go route where Williams fully extended to make the grab in the back of the end zone against All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters.
Williams said pre-snap he knew that would be open and the ball was coming his way. Williams stayed down afterwards, but said he just got the wind knocked out of him.
“I expect the ball to come to me whenever it’s a pass play,” Williams said. “I run every route like I’m getting the ball. I had an opportunity to go make a play, went up and made it. It was a play that was designed for me to go up and make a play.”
Williams’ second touchdown occurred with a little over eight minutes left in the third quarter. On fourth-and-2 from the Rams 20-yard line, Rivers had enough confidence in Williams to find him on a post-corner route for his second touchdown of the game.
“That’s our guys being disciplined, running their routes and always knowing that ‘You never know,'” Rivers said. “And the coverage they played allowed him to come open. He made a great catch and got into the end zone.”
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Last season, Williams finished with just 11 catches for 95 yards during an injury-plagued rookie campaign in which he missed six games due to back and knee injuries.
Through three games Williams already has 11 receptions for 189 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
“I’m making the most of my opportunities,” Williams said. “Every time the ball comes my way, I feel like something good comes from it. So I’ve just got to continue to get better – -come out here Monday, watch film and get better from there.”