Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo reacts after his game-tying field goal attempt at the end of regulation was blocked by the Denver Broncos on Sept. 11.(Dustin Bradford / Getty Images)
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon dives over Broncos strong safety Justin Simmons in the second quarter on Sept. 11.(Justin Edmonds / Getty Images)
Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris celebrates with defensive back Chris Harris after beating the Chargers. Shelby blocked the game-tying field goal attempt.(Justin Edmonds / Getty Images)
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is sacked by Denver Broncos outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett during the second half on Sept. 11.(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon reacts after being tackled for a loss in the third quarter of a game against the Denver Broncos on Sept. 11.(Dustin Bradford / Getty Images)
Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams (16) catches and runs for a 12-yard gain against the Broncos on Sept. 11.(Dustin Bradford / Getty Images)
Bosa and Ingram consistently harassed Denver last week, finishing the game with 1.5 sacks a piece. They also collectively produced six quarterback hits, which means they spent plenty of time in the opposition’s backfield. Ex-Dolphin Chris McCain also contributed a sack. The Chargers pass rushing duo might be the NFL’s best. That means Miami’s starting tackles, Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James, will face their biggest test of the year in the season opener.(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)
Chargers inside linebacker Korey Toomer forces Broncos running back Jamaal Charles to fumble during the second half of a game in Denver on Sept. 11.(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)
Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin (12) pulls in a touchdown catch against the Denver Broncos during the second half on Sept. 11.(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)
Broncos inside linebacker Corey Nelson tackles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler during the second half on Sept. 11.(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)
Chargers inside linebacker Korey Toomer and Broncos running back Jamaal Charles look at a fumble Toomer caused during the second half on Sept. 11.(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)
Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian is hit by Chargers defensive end Corey Liuget during the second half on Sept. 11.(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)
Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian tries to avoid Chargers linebacker Charmeachealle Moore during the second half on Sept. 11.(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)
QB Philip Rivers (22 of 33, 192 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) is among the best in the league and he has dangerous WRs among Keenan Allen (5 receptions, 35 yards, 1 TD), Travis Benjamin (3 receptions, 43 yards, 1 TD) and Tyrell Williams (5 receptions, 54 yards). Miami’s pass rush, led by Cam Wake and Ndamukong Suh, must pressure Rivers and make him uncomfortable. CB Byron Maxwell could be targeted, as he was in preseason. And FS Nate Allen will be tested. The entire secondary was suspect during preseason. The key for Miami will be the pass rush. <b>EDGE: Chargers</b>(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)
The Dolphins’ 31-24 fourth-quarter victory over the Chargers last season was a byproduct of Miami’s defense forcing Rivers to commit four turnovers. Rivers only threw for 192 yards last week against Denver, but three of those 22 attempts ended up being thrown for touchdowns. The Dolphins will have a tough time stopping RB Melvin Gordon, TE Antonio Gates and Rivers’ receivers. Miami’s linebackers need to be at their best.(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)
Broncos running back C.J. Anderson stiff arms inside linebacker Chargers’ Korey Toomer in the first quarter on Sept. 11.(Dustin Bradford / Getty Images)
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon fumbles as Broncos inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (54), inside linebacker Todd Davis (51) and defensive end Derek Wolfe (95) make the tackle during the first half on Sept. 11.(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)
Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian) eludes Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa for a touchdown run during the first half.(Jack Dempsey / AP)
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is hit by Broncos free safety Darian Stewart during the first half on Sept. 11.(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)
The Denver Broncos and the Los Angeles Chargers kickoff at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium on Sept. 11.(Justin Edmonds / Getty Images)
Chargers nose tackle Damion Square and the rest of the team take the field before the game against the Denver Broncos.(Dustin Bradford / Getty Images)
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.
“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.
…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.