The Los Angeles Chargers opened the 2019 season in winning fashion, picking up a hard fought 30-24 overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Third year running back Austin Ekeler finished with 154 yards and three touchdowns from the line of scrimmage, proving he’s more than ready for a lead role with Melvin Gordon still away seeking a new contract.
Ekeler had 10 carries for 58 yards and six receptions for 96 yards, while second year back Justin Jackson finished with six carries for 57 yards.
“Today was a little show of what we could do,” Ekeler said on the teams ground attack. “We just gotta build off it… get back to work and make sure we put on a show next week as well.”
“He looked good,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said on his starting tailback. “He broke tackles and made plays. He showed speed through the hole. He’s shown that all along, but he’s never done it from the lead role.”
Los Angeles Quarterback Philip Rivers made his 209th consecutive start and completed 25 of 34 passes for 333 yards. Indianapolis defensive backs simply had no answer for Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen, who exploded for 123 yards and a score on eight receptions.
“It felt great,” said Allen on the physicality of the game and how he feels health wise.” [I] just feel healthy and everything felt fine.”
Colts running back Marlon Mack had 25 carries for 174 yards. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett was 21 of 27 for 190 yards and two touchdowns. T.Y. Hilton had eight receptions for 87 yards and both receiving touchdowns.
Los Angeles found themselves leading 24-9 after Rivers connected with Ekeler for a 55-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter.
However, just under a minute later, Mack brought the Colts back within eight, 24-16, as he escaped on a career-long 63-yard burst up the sideline.
Carrying momentum into the fourth period, Indianapolis safety Malik Hooker baited Rivers into a tough angle, which led to Hooker making an unbelievable one-handed interception in the end zone.
“Before we broke the huddle, I looked up at the score and the time and said, ‘Three points is good. Don’t turn it over,” Rivers said. “About 10 seconds later, I turned it over. I’m responsible for that, no question.”
Back on offense now, Brissett engineered a 16-play, 80 yard-drive that ended with Hilton juking a defender and diving past the pylon for his second score of the day. Still down two, 24-22, Indianapolis then tied it once Mack ran it in on the 2-point conversion with only 38 seconds left.
“We knew that game was going to take four quarters, but it actually took five,” Lynn said. “It took every man in that locker room to get this done today.”
In overtime, Los Angeles had a simple game plan, win the coin toss and go end the game with a score, they did just that.
“Anytime you’re in overtime, you’re trying to end it as fast as you can,” Ekeler said on putting the game away.
With 5:01 remaining in overtime, Ekeler capped off an eight-play, 75-yard drive on a 7-yard game-winning run, resulting in the 30-24 victory for the Chargers.
“We wanted to end it,” Allen said. “The game was in our hands. We did a great job of finishing.”
The Chargers travel to Detroit next Sunday for a matchup against the Lions, who are coming off a tie against the Arizona Cardinals. Kick-off is scheduled for 10:00 A.M.