The 1,000-yard season for an NFL running back lost much of its luster when the league expanded its regular season from 14 to 16 games in 1978.
But when you’ve never reached that threshold — and actually have fallen three yards short of it — it becomes a little more significant.
That’s another reason why Chargers running back Melvin Gordon was in a celebratory mood after passing the 1,000-yard mark with a seven-yard run early in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 14-7 win over the New York Jets.
“It means a lot, man — a lot of hard work,” said Gordon, who also scored the decisive touchdown on a one-yard run with about five minutes left in the third quarter. “It hasn’t been easy. I was supposed to get it last year and fell short.
“But kudos to my offensive line, the tight ends, the receivers, the fullback ... everybody’s been blocking down the field. It’s a great accomplishment, but there’s still more to come. … I’m not content with getting 1,000 yards, especially with backs out there getting 1,200 and 1,300.”
Gordon finished with 81 yards on 19 carries, giving him 1,012 yards on the season. He also had three catches for 47 yards, giving him 52 for 445. He has 11 total touchdowns.
“It just means durability, consistency and showing up every week,” coach Anthony Lynn said of Gordon’s rushing total. “That’s a little over 65 yards a game; something like that. That’s what it tells me, that the guy is available and he’s consistent.”
Gordon said he wasn’t sure if he would do something to thank his linemen. No gifts are necessary, right guard Joe Barksdale said.
“Melvin doesn’t owe us anything,” Barksdale said. “That’s our teammate. Whether he takes us to dinner, gives us gifts or gives us nothing, we’re just happy to see the kid succeed.”
Gordon’s afternoon did not end well. He got his left foot caught in a pile with about three minutes left and limped off with what appeared to be a sprained ankle. He left the MetLife Stadium locker room in a walking boot but was confident he would be able to play next week in the season finale against Oakland, with a playoff spot possibly on the line.
“It’s nothing serious,” Gordon said. “I just rolled it. I do it a lot. I had rolled it earlier but just kept playing through it. I’ll be fine.”
Allen picks off a pass
Keenan Allen is proud of the fact he was a five-star defensive back recruit at Northern Guilford High School in North Carolina. According to Rivals.com, Allen was the highest-rated high school safety in the country in the class of 2010.
“I was a six-star safety!” Allen boasted Sunday.
The Chargers’ leading receiver showed off those defensive skills just before halftime when he intercepted a Hail Mary by Jets quarterback Bryce Petty at the goal line and returned it 32 yards before being flattened by offensive tackle Brandon Shell, who suffered a concussion on the play.
“When the ball went up in the air, I definitely was like, ‘It’s mine, no question,’ ” said Allen, who practices with the defense once a week. “I was definitely trying to score. I got killed. That [tackle] hurt.”
Allen still managed five catches for 63 yards. According to the NFL, Allen is the first player in league history with at least 90 receptions and an interception in the same season and the third with 1,000 receiving yards and an interception.
Score one for the replacements
The two linebackers tabbed to replace the injured Denzel Perryman teamed up on a key turnover midway through the second period.
With the Jets trailing 7-0, on the Chargers’ 20-yard line and threatening to score, Korey Toomer ripped the ball from the hands of Matt Forte, forcing a fumble that teammate Hayes Pullard recovered.
“It was a great feeling,” Pullard said. “We swarmed to the ball, and I just jumped on it.”
Overall, it wasn’t a great day for the defense, which allowed Bilal Powell to rush for 145 yards on 19 carries, including a 57-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
“Bilal is a great back, and we knew he would get some long runs,” Pullard said. “We just had to press that reset button and stick together.”
Late hit bv Bosa
Edge rusher Joey Bosa committed a costly unnecessary roughness penalty on a third-down play from the Chargers’ 35-yard line with four minutes left when he appeared to hit Petty cleanly but drove him into the ground.
The call gave the Jets a first down, but the Chargers forced incomplete passes on third and fourth down to essentially seal the win.
“Initially, I thought it was a targeting [penalty], but they told me it was the driving to the ground,” Lynn said. “Joey’s going to have to learn from that. We’re trying to protect the quarterbacks in our league. You can sack them, but you can’t just drive them into the ground.”
After testing his injured groin before the game, left tackle Russell Okung was not activated. He was replaced by Sam Tevi, a 6-foot-5, 315-pound rookie from Utah. Tevi and his linemates did not allow Philip Rivers to be sacked, and Tevi was the lead blocker on several good runs.
“Sam did pretty well,” Okung said. “To step in there in a critical game for us and to keep the quarterback pretty clean, thought he did a great job. I’m real proud of him. I worked with him all week.”
Isaac Rochell, a 6-3, 280-pound rookie defensive end from Notre Dame, was activated for the first time since Week 1 and sacked Petty late in the second quarter for a four-yard loss.
Follow Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna