Lost in Week 3 loss to Rams was career-best defensive performance by Chargers’ Brandon Mebane

Chargers defensive tackle Brandon Mebane has stepped up during the absence of Joey Bosa.
Chargers defensive tackle Brandon Mebane has stepped up during the absence of Joey Bosa.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

It was hard to notice, even with all the television cameras pointing down and nearly 70,000 people watching.

On a day when the offenses combined for 877 yards and the Rams had a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver, Chargers 12th-year defensive tackle Brandon Mebane had — statistically speaking — the game of his life.

“It’s easier to see guys making open-field tackles or interceptions or touchdowns,” Mebane said. “It’s easy to figure out, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s a good player.’ But at my position, a lot of people will never know or understand what’s happening.”

At 6-foot-1 and 311 pounds, Mebane generally plays close to the ground at a time when the NFL is going more and more into the air.


He is assigned to do the grunt work while someone else is mic’d up to capture the more marketable sounds of the game.

But in a 35-23 loss to the Rams on Sunday, Mebane finished with six solo tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass knocked down.

“As a staff, a defensive staff, we thought he played — I know since I’ve been here — it was probably his best game,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said.

Bradley is in his second season with the Chargers, and the significance of Mebane’s production goes back much further than that.

He had as many as six solo tackles only one other time — in a playoff game for Seattle in January of 2011.

Mebane had seven total tackles — five solo and two assists — on Christmas Eve of 2011 as the Seahawks lost to San Francisco.

But the totality of his effort Sunday made this a career day.

Mebane’s position coach with the Chargers, Giff Smith, informed Mebane of the historical relevance of his performance. So did Mebane’s wife. And his brother.


So, was Brandon Mebane as impressed with Brandon Mebane as everyone else seemed to be?

“At the end of the day, they’re going to forget about it anyway,” he said, laughing. “They’re going to do like this …”

He stood and grabbed the name placard over his locker.

“ ‘Mebane? Get him out of here,’ ” he continued. “And they’re going to do this.”


He comically discarded the placard like someone tossing aside a spent candy wrapper.

“Know what I’m saying?” Mebane said before laughing again.

He is 33 and in the final season of a three-year, $13.5-million free-agent deal he signed before the Chargers’ final season in San Diego.

Mebane, a Los Angeles native who attended Crenshaw High before playing college football at California, said he’s not sure how much longer he’d like to play. But he acknowledged — with his deal expiring — he thinks about it often.


As a Charger, he has been recognized with postseason honors for his courage and inspiration and, after Joey Bosa’s award-winning rookie year, Mebane was the player Bosa wanted to thank most.

A couple of weeks ago, teammates picked Mebane to be one of their captains for the third consecutive season.

“He’s so consistent,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “He comes to work every single day and does his job. And the guys respect that … a veteran player; been doing it for a long time.”

Along with all the qualities he brings to the field and locker room, Mebane also arrives each day with something tucked away that not many teammates can claim — a Super Bowl ring.


Mebane won his title with Seattle in 2014 and then, a year later, lost a second potential championship to New England on a late interception.

When he first joined the Chargers, Mebane said his new teammates asked often about the sensation of winning a Super Bowl. He just as readily remembers what died at the goal line against the Patriots in 2015.

“There were two guys with our [Super Bowl-winning] T-shirts in bags walking toward our sidelines,” Mebane said. “Then, when the play happened, they turned and went back in the tunnel. I never saw them again.”

otball’s funny that way.



Keenan Allen (knee) returned to practice Friday and Lynn said he’s “comfortable” the wide receiver will be able to play Sunday against San Francisco. Wide receiver Travis Benjamin (foot) also practiced on a limited basis, Lynn saying Benjamin’s status would be determined during the pregame. Rookie linebacker Kyzir White (knee) was unable to practice this week and will not play against San Francisco. White missed time during the preseason with the same knee issue.

Twitter: @JeffMillerLAT