On a day when Caleb Sturgis made his only field-goal try, the most notable kick for the Chargers came from defensive back Desmond King.
And he promised to never do it again.
In the final two minutes of the first quarter, King was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after pretending to boot Buffalo Bills receiver Zay Jones off the field.
The penalty allowed the Bills to retain possession when it would have been fourth and 20 and led to Buffalo’s first points.
“Stupid,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “Very stupid.”
King and Jones had been engaged in some spirited back-and-forth talk for a few plays, with King mimicking a chattering mouth with his hands in Jones’ direction.
After a third-down pass fell incomplete, King made the same motion repeatedly and, this time, added an exaggerated kick toward Jones.
Chargers safety Adrian Phillips celebrates an interception with teammates Derwin James and Jatavis Brown at New Era Field on Sunday.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler runs through an attempted tackle of Buffalo Bills linebacker Tremaine Edwards during third quarter action at New Era Field.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Chargers safety Jahleel Addae dives over Buffalo Bills receiver Robert Foster after a fourth quarter completion from quarterback Josh Allen at New Era Field.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram III congratulates teammate Mike Williams after the receiver caught a first quarter touchdown pass from Philip Rivers against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers shows a clenched fist to a handful of fans as the end of a 31-20 LA win over the Buffalo Bills approaches at New Era Field.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Chargers special teams player Michael Davis knocks the ball loose from Buffalo Bills punt receiver Marcus Murphy at New Era Field. A penalty on the Chargers nullified the fumble.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Buffalo Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander strips the ball from Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, but the play was called dead by officials a split second before during a second half drive at New Era Field on Sunday.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Chargers tight end Virgil Green reaches out to catch a deflected pass from quarterback Philip Rivers during a second half drive against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Buffalo Bills receiver Kelvin Benjamin absorbs a hard hit from Chargers safety Adrian Phillips, 31, and cornerback Trevor Williams, 24, on a fourth quarter touchdown pass from Bills quarterback Josh Allen at New Era Field.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen struggles to get off a pass as Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram tries to drag him down during second half action at New Era Field. Allen threw an interception to safety Adrian Phillips on the play.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Chargers safety Derwin James sacks Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen during first half action at New Era Field on Sunday.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Chargers defensive backs celebrate after safety Adrian Phillips (31) intercepted a second half pass from Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen at New Era Field on Sunday.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The Chargers defensive backfield team strike a pose for photographers on their way to the field in a game against the the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on Sunday.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Lynn most certainly thought it was bad. He was spotted on the sideline emphatically informing King of his disapproval, Lynn later joking that he could not repeat his message because television cameras were rolling.
“Very frustrated,” he said. “That’s what championship teams don’t do. They don’t make those types of mistakes.”
For his part, King said he understood but also noted that he did not agree with the ruling.
“It was a BS call to me, honestly,” he said. “I mean, you gotta let us play football. It’s gonna happen. We [playing) away. They’re looking for the small things to call, and that was the one they got on me.”
The game featured a scary moment in the third quarter when a strange sequence on a punt return resulted in Chargers rookie Uchenna Nwosu hitting Taiwan Jones after his helmet had come off.
Nwosu was called for unnecessary roughness and Jones left with blood dripping from his forehead.
“The ref is supposed to whistle the play dead once he lost his helmet,” Nwosu said. “I never realized he lost his helmet, and when the ref didn’t blow the whistle to end the play, I continued playing.”
Jones picked up the ball and, during the scramble that followed, lost his helmet. After he turned in an effort to escape, Nwosu hit him.
“You don’t wish a hit like that on anybody,” Nwosu said. “You try to play as safe as possible. But it’s football, and we all signed up to play this game, so you have to face things that come with it.”
Travis Benjamin sits
Receiver Travis Benjamin (foot) was inactive after sitting out most of the week of practice. He tested his sore Achilles during warmups but was unable to play. Geremy Davis was activated in Benjamin’s place.
Offensive lineman Forrest Lamp also wasn’t active for the second consecutive game. A second-round pick in 2017, Lamp sat out last season because of a knee injury and has yet to make his NFL debut.
Running back Melvin Gordon left late because of what he called an upper-body injury, but he did not seem to be overly concerned. … Fullback Derek Watt suffered a thumb injury. … Rookie linebacker Kyzir White had his first career interception. … Austin Ekeler’s 77 yards rushing marked a career high. … Lynn, who coached for two years in Buffalo before being hired by the Chargers, on being victorious in his return: “This was our first win of the season. That’s all my satisfaction right there. That’s all I needed.”