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Chargers

What we learned from the Chargers’ 26-21 victory over the Bengals

CARSON, CA, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2018 - Chargers quarteback Philip Rivers complains to an official af
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers complains to an official after throwing an incomplete pass to Keenan Allen, arguing that pass interference should’ve been called late in the fourth quarter at StubHub Center on Dec. 9.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

THIS TEAM IS MORE THAN JUST ADEQUATE AT KICKER

The Chargers had a legitimate weapon against the Bengals in Michael Badgley. The rookie kicker made all four of his field goal tries and a pair of extra points to outscore three teams on Sunday, including the Rams. Badgley’s output included a franchise-record 59-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter. “He hasn’t been a kicker his whole life, so he has a little more — not that being a kicker your whole life is a negative, by any means — but I’ve seen him throw the football,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “He can throw the heck out of the ball. Just the way he carries himself, I guess, is a little more like a guy who has played other positions in his life.”

THE CHARGERS CONTINUE TO MAKE PLAYS AT THE END

Coach Anthony Lynn’s team improved to 5-1 for the season in one-score games. The Chargers have won three times in part because of defensive stops in the final two minutes. They’ve also secured victories twice by thwarting late two-point conversion attempts. Their past two wins have come by a combined eight points. “This is a close-game league,” Rivers said. “It’s a one-score, close-game league. When you don’t win close games — you’re not going to win all of them — but when you lose them often, you go 5-11 and 4-12. When you win a bunch of close games, you find yourself where we are right now, which is in the thick of it.”

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THE DEFENSE CONTINUES TO STAR WHEN NEEDED

This time it was defensive tackle Darius Philon who authored the key moment, sacking Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel on the game-deciding two-point conversion attempt with 1:50 remaining. “What we work on all week is burst to the quarterback and make a play,” he said. “It was a big-time play in a big-time situation.” Philon credited the secondary and linebackers for clogging the passing lanes, his fellow linemen for providing a push up front and his coaches for giving him the opportunity. “It’s just our effort and our will to get to the quarterback and finish plays,” he said.

THESE PLAYERS UNDERSTAND THE NEXT CHALLENGE

In the aftermath of this victory, every Charger asked talked about the importance of rest and recovery in the coming days in preparation for the team’s next game, Thursday night in Kansas City. “I mean, it’s all about getting recovered and ready to go,” defensive end Joey Bosa said. “It’s going to be a real tough turnaround to be ready. So, it’s all about recovery — starting now.” Said running back Austin Ekeler: “It’s important to just get back to being healthy. Get back in there, go through all of our recovery. It will be short week, so a big mental week, maybe not as physical as a normal week would be.”

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THE CHARGERS REALLY COULD USE MELVIN GORDON AT KC

The running back has missed consecutive games because of a sprained ligament in his right knee. Gordon has been out for three games this season, and the Chargers are 3-0 without him. It is hard to imagine them winning, however, against the first-place Chiefs without one of their most dynamic playmakers. The Chargers had 63 yards rushing on their first two series Sunday. They had 22 yards rushing the rest of the game, which covered nearly the entire final three quarters. Rookie Justin Jackson, who excelled against Pittsburgh in the second half Dec. 2, finished Sunday with 12 yards on seven carries. The Chargers averaged 3.4 yards on 25 rushes total. That sort of average likely won’t work against Kansas City.


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