The Los Angeles Chargers had an historic day, shutting out the Denver Broncos 21-0, Sunday afternoon, against a team who hadn’t been shut out since 1992, ending the second longest streak in NFL history at 394 games.
For the Chargers, 2014 was the last time they were able to pitch a shutout, bringing that winning formula to the StubHub Center, after dropping their first four games of the season.
The Chargers have now won three straight, tied for the longest streak in the AFC. They’re just two games back in the division after beginning the year 0-4.
“The run defense got better,” head coach Anthony Lynn explained postgame. “They got better and that’s what we try to do every single week, get better … I love my two edge rushers (Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa). But today, what I liked about them is that they played the run better. Sometimes it’s hard to stop the run when you’re trying to sack the quarterback, and unselfishly, they played the run. They’re playing tighter techniques to stop the run and they’re doing it for the team.”
Momentum seemed to swing from the jump in the first quarter for Los Angeles, as their special teams made big plays that affected the entirety of the game.
It started with punt returner Travis Benjamin, who had previously only been averaging 6.0 yards per return, quickly changing his average, as he picked up a shanked punt off a hop, taking it for a 65-yard touchdown to the house.
“That was amazing,” receiver Keenan Allen said. “Any time the offense doesn’t touch the field and we get six points, that’s great.”
Field position played a tremendous part all game, as Chargers punter Drew Kaser tied his career high with a 69-yard punt that skied over the head of return man Hunter Sharp and appeared as a likely touchback.
However, the ball hit the ground at the two-yard line and bounced straight into the air, allowing Austin Ekeler to down it inside the one-yard line.
“Whenever the football hits the ground like that and bounces straight up, that’s just luck,” Kaser said. “That was someone from above looking down on me there.”
The Chargers offense was easily overshadowed by its defense and special teams and for good reason; nontheless, their performance is worth mentioning.
Philip Rivers passed for 183 yards, reaching the century mark in wins and making him only the 13th quarterback in NFL history to do so, categorizing himself alongside Joe Montana and his 100 wins.
“Being a part of 100 wins is awesome,” said Rivers. Many that we probably have left that could have been wins, and maybe some that we shouldn’t have won that we got. I’m just thankful to be out there for so many of them. Shoot, there’s a lot of awesome memories in those 100.”
Rivers connected with Ekeler for an early TD on the one-yard line, while seemingly putting the game away late in fourth with a 42-yard touchdown strike to Benjamin.
Running back Melvin Gordon had a quiet day, tallying only thirty-eight yards on eighteen carries; nonetheless, was still essential in his role of keeping the clock running.
“We won some games back to back man,” said Gordon. “Right now, we’re just digging, have our hard hats on and we’re just working hard.”