The Los Angeles Chargers got back to .500 with a 29-27 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
Game Balls Offense: Melvin Gordon – Gordon continued his strong 2018 by closing the first quarter of the season on a high note. On the ground, he finished the day with 15 carries for 104 yards. In the process, he became the sixth Charger to achieve 3,000 career rushing yards. Through the air, he had seven receptions for 55 yards and a TD that put the Bolts up in the third quarter.
Defense: Derwin James – Much like Gordon’s play for the offense, James has been lights out for the defense through the first four games of the season. Sunday’s win was no exception. He notched seven total tackles, one tackle for loss, three quarterback hits, two passes defensed and one sack. He became the first DB in NFL history to post three sacks in the first four games of his career. Additionally, his play at the end of the game helped Isaac Rochell seal the INT for the win.
Unsung Hero: Desmond King – King’s play in the third phase of football helped lead to points for the offense on multiple occasions in Sunday’s game. In the second quarter, King had clear vision to cut upfield for a 56-yard punt return to set the offense up at the SF 32. Three plays later, the Bolts kicked a 48-yard field goal to tie the game at the half. In the third quarter, King turned on the jets again, this time for a 21-yard punt return to the Chargers’ 49. Six plays after that, Philip Rivers found Gordon for a six-yard TD and the Chargers’ first lead of the game.
Stat of the Game:
In the fourth quarter, Philip Rivers eclipsed 222 yards passing when he hit Melvin Gordon for a seven-yard reception. It was history in the making as he passed Hall of Famer John Elway (51,476) for the eighth-most passing yards in NFL history.
Play of the Game:
Down 17-6 with less than a minute to go in the first half from the San Francisco 22-yard line, the Chargers lined Austin Ekeler out wide for a pivotal 3rd-and-3. Ekeler gained separation along the right sideline, and Philip Rivers dropped a perfect dime to the running back in stride to make it 17-14 following a successful two-point conversion.
The 49ers held the ball for over 10 minutes on their first possession of the second quarter. Overall it was a 21-play, 72-yard drive totaling a span of 10:44, that kept the Chargers offense off the field as they took an 11-point lead. What did the Bolts do? They responded immediately with a clutch touchdown drive that ended with the aforementioned Ekeler TD.
It Was Over When:
The Bolts led by two with 3:57 to go in the game; however, facing a 4th-and-1 from the SF 37, chose to punt. Facing a 2nd-and-6 from their own 31, C.J. Beathard threw a pass intended for Alfred Morris, but Derwin James hit the quarterback which knocked the ball into the air and into the awaiting arms of Isaac Rochell. The play sealed the win for the Chargers, as the offense took a series of knees to end the game.
“This is a resilient group. I think we’ve shown that the last couple years with everything we’ve been through. It’s a brotherhood. Win, lose or draw, we have each other’s’ backs.” – CB Trevor Williams
“Being down (14) points is nothing to us. We have been at rock bottom. It’s only up, and we know how to respond when we go down. We never fold. We never turn the cheek. We never look back and think the game is over. We always feel like we have the players to be in the game regardless (of) how much someone goes up. Until that clock hits zero, we (have) a chance.” – RB Melvin Gordon
“Coach always says, ‘Let’s play a four quarter game.’ He wants to see us play a complete game and I feel like today, we played a complete game as a team. We’re going to look at the film, correct the mistakes, move on and get ready for Oakland.” – S Derwin James
“I think when you see a young man make an effort the way he made today, I think it gives the whole sideline juice. He inspired me on the sidelines seeing him run.” – Head Coach Anthony Lynn on Melvin Gordon
Odds and Ends
The Chargers outgained the 49ers by a slim 368-364 margin in total yardage. The Niners had a 288-242 edge through the air, while the Bolts held a 126-76 advantage on the ground.
Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon tied with seven receptions apiece. Allen led the receiving corps in yardage (63).
Austin Ekeler became the first undrafted running back since 1966 with five-plus TD catches in his first two seasons.
Trevor Williams and Jatavis Brown paced the defense with eight total tackles each. Williams had a critical red zone interception which he ran back for 86 yards that eventually turned into points via a field goal.
Jahleel Addae served as today’s honorary captain.
Inactives for the Chargers included Kyzir White, Cole Toner, Joe Barksdale, Forrest Lamp, JJ Jones, T.Y. McGill and Joey Bosa.