What we learned in the Chargers’ 24-21 loss to the Denver Broncos

What we learned from the Chargers’ 24-21 loss to the Denver Broncos on Monday night:

Anthony Lynn wants to run it

Following the loss, Lynn said he felt his team ditched the ground game, and that a more consistent pounding would’ve tired the Broncos out. It’s the kind of coach Lynn has always been, but the Chargers’ offense Monday looked better when the ball was in the air.

The Chargers rushed 22 times for just 64 yards. Take away Melvin Gordon’s 21-yard run in the first quarter and the team averaged a fraction more than two yards per carry.


“I feel like, earlier, we ran the ball, and at some point we got away from it a little bit,” Lynn said. “We got behind by a couple of scores. I think we could’ve been a little more patient. [I] should’ve been more patient. Instead of trying to catch up, I should’ve just stayed true to the run game. That would’ve worn down their defense, I think.”

Special teams needs some work

Obviously, the most memorable play of the season opener will be Younghoe Koo’s game-tying field goal being blocked by Denver’s Shelby Harris. On the play, Harris got past rookie Dan Feeney, allowing the defensive end in the backfield, where he was able to get fingers on the kick.

The block came right after Koo had drilled the 44-yard kick a blink after Denver coach Vance Joseph called timeout.


“Yeah, I felt like I got a good push,” Harris said. “We got a good push on every field goal today. I felt like we had a chance to block everyone today.”

That’s a problem for special teams coordinator George Stewart and the Chargers — and it wasn’t the only one.

The Chargers’ coverage teams allowed two returns — one kick and one punt — to go for more than 30 yards while taking their only return three yards in the wrong direction.

This unit has been one of the NFL’s worst the last two years, and 2017 is off to a rough start.

Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram can do some damage

The Chargers’ pass rush really woke up in the second half — in particular, the fourth quarter. While everyone, rightfully so, has big hopes for Joey Bosa in his second season, Melvin Ingram continues to look unblockable.

They each had 1.5 sacks while their back-up, Chris McCain, recorded a sack of his own.

The defensive line can’t single-handedly slow down a passing attack but, even in a loss, it’s clear that Bosa and Ingram can disrupt what a team wants to do.


Quick hits

The Chargers really mismanaged the final drive of the game, using way too much time to gain just 11 yards.

…Lynn’s first challenge of the season was a puzzling one, as it seemed pretty clear that Keenan Allen hadn’t made the catch.

…Speaking of Allen, it was good to see him in the end zone a year after suffering a serious knee injury.

…Casey Hayward’s dropped interception completely changed the feel of the game.

…Hayes Pullard, who the team claimed off of waivers early in the week, played a lot for the team in nickel situations.

…Rookie Austin Ekeler caught a pair of passes and seems electric enough to earn more playing time next week.

…The Chargers had only two plays go for more than 14 yards; Denver had five.


…Linebacker Jatavis Brown had 14 tackles, twice as many as Pullard, who had the second most on the team.

Get our daily Sports Report newsletter