The Chargers have given up too many big leads in too many games this year.
And that one should sting for a bit.
Let’s quickly review what happened.
Herbert starts short
Forget stopping short (for my Seinfeld friends), Justin Herbert started the game with a very short, dink-and-dunk kind of passing attack against the Broncos secondary, with relatively mixed results. Okay, fine he didn’t start-start short, but after the early interception on a pass down the field, he certainly edited his game plan.
Also — getting ahead of it — but I think that INT is not Herbert’s fault. He was hit, couldn’t step into it, don’t hate the decision, just hate the protection.
Impressive drive get stuffed
The third possession backed the Chargers up, pinned at their own 9-yardline. Herbert, with the aid of rookie RB Joshua Kelley looked like they were going to change the game with an impressive drive, including a beautiful Herbert throw to Mike Williams that saw Herbert put his arm talent on display, but it was thwarted on a fourth-down attempt when Anthony Lynn opted for a fourth-down carry from Kelley instead of a 44-yard field goal try. Kelley rushed four times for 28 yards on the drive, but zero yards on 4th & 1.
When in doubt, go to Allen
It doesn’t even need to be stated, but the Chargers offensive line struggles to pass protect consistently well. So, when in doubt, go to Keenan Allen, and that’s what it seemed like Herbert started to do, during the four-minute drive in the waning stages of the second quarter, at least.
Allen’s presence on the field cannot be understated — and as such, he was key (as well as some valuable checkdowns to RBs) on LA’s first scoring drive of the game in which Herbert went 7-for-7 for 78 yards, including 3-for-3 when targeting Allen for 38 yards, two first downs and the game’s first touchdown.
Mike Williams continues to impress
This, of course, led to a 2-yard Gabe Nabers touchdown reception that capped a solid two-minute drive to close out the half and maintain their stolen momentum.
And — SHOUTOUT GABE NABERS and his first NFL touchdown ever!
Oh, and then Williams did this to start the third quarter.
Michael Badgley boosts confidence
After opting to go for it early in the game, well within reach of a field goal and being stopped, Michael Badgley certainly did his part as the game progressed. Badgley connected on a 52-yard field goal and a 47-yard field goal in the second half, boosting his own confidence as well as the confidence in Anthony Lynn in his kicker’s ability.
That confidence was needed as Badgley’s 33-yard field goal with 2:34 left in the fourth quarter extended the team’s lead to six points.
Second-half coverage woes
The coverage unit looked sharp at times in the second half with a Rayshawn Jenkins interception but Drew Lock carved up the defense in the third and fourth quarters, including three fourth-quarter touchdowns of nine yards, 40 yards and one yard to Albert Okwuegbunam, DaeSean Hamilton and KJ Hamler, respectively.
Their prevent defense also struggled to maintain the boundary during Denver’s game-winning drive and was ultimately undone with a bad penalty in the end zone from Brandon Facyson.
That all led to KJ Hamler’s one-yard touchdown that tied the game, the third passing TD that the Chargers coverage allowed in the game. Brandon McManus would connect on the extra point and seal the Chargers’ defeat.
The Chargers dropped to 2-4 while the Broncos improved to 2-4.
LA is back in action next Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders at 1:05 pm.