Dustin Hopkins overcomes the ‘pop’ and the ‘stabbing’ pain to kick Chargers to OT win
At the end, they lifted him up, the guy who could barely stand on his own.
Playing with a hamstring he said he felt “pop” on a second-quarter extra point, Hopkins booted four field goals, including a 39-yarder nearly eight minutes into the extra session.
“Before every kick, you knew it was going to feel like someone was stabbing you with a knife,” Hopkins said. “It was like, ‘All right. Let’s do this.’ I was praying too. I was, ‘Lord, just be with me.’ The other part was, ‘Pain’s temporary.’ I was just committed to swinging and dealing with pain after.”
Hopkins’ other successful kicks came from 37, 31 and 35 yards as he provided much of the Chargers’ offense against a stout Broncos defense.
Chargers defeat Broncos on Dustin Hopkins field goal in overtime
🏈 Chargers 19, Broncos 16 — FINAL IN OVERTIME
Deane Leonard recovered a a botched Denver punt return in overtime to set up a 39-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins, delivering the Chargers to a comeback victory.
The Chargers (4-2) and the Broncos (2-4) struggled on offense in overtime, with neither team achieving a first down. On Denver’s second possession, Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. deflected a pass intended by Denver wide receiver Jerry Jeudy on third down.
Samuel’s deflection set up the key play behind the win. Denver’s Montrell Washington let a fair catch on a punt slip through his arms after P.J. Locke was blocked into him by the Chargers’ Ja’Sir Taylor. Leonard recovered the ball at the Denver 28. Had it not been for the Chargers capitalizing on the excellent field position, the game probably would have ended in a tie.
Hopkins managed to kick four field goals despite dealing with a right leg injury he sustained in the second quarter after kicking an extra point. Hopkins, who missed last week’s game because of a right quad injury, kicked field goals of 37, 31, 35 and 39 yards.
Both offenses struggled to gain ground, particularly in the second half. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert completed 37 of 57 passes for 238 yards, with an interception. Chargers running back Austin Ekeler was held to 36 yards on 13 carries.
Russell Wilson’s struggles with the Broncos continue. After showing some flashes of his old, Seahawks self in the first half, he was completely ineffective in the second half and overtime. He finished 15 of 28 for 188 yards and a touchdown. Latavius Murry rushed for 68 yards on 15 carries for Denver.
Chargers and Broncos head into overtime tied 16-16
🏈 Broncos 16, Chargers 16 — end of regulation
The game is heading to overtime after a Justin Herbert Hail Mary throw fell incomplete short of the end zone. The Broncos won the overtime coin toss and will start with the ball.
The Chargers got the ball on their 25-yard line with 1:51 on the clock and three timeouts left, but only managed a single first down.
In a bit of good news for the Chargers, center Will Clapp returned to the game.
Chargers linebacker Drue Tranquill sacked Russell Wilson on third down to give Herbert and the Chargers a final chance to win it in regulation. While Russell showed flashes of his old, Seahawks self in the first half, the Chargers defense shut him down in the second half.
Dustin Hopkins field goal ties game late in fourth quarter
🏈 Broncos 16, Chargers 16 — 3:58 left in the fourth quarter
Dustin Hopkins kicked a 35-yard field goal for the Chargers to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.
Hopkins fell to the field on the follow through and appeared to be grimacing — just like he did earlier while successfully converting on another field goal — as he continues to battle a right leg injury. He missed last week’s game with a right quad injury.
Once again, the Chargers struggled when they got into the red zone. A holding penalty on third-string center Brenden Jaimes, filling in for the injured Will Clapp, complicated matters. Clapp, however, returned the game with under a minute left in regulation as the Chargers tried to piece together a game-winning drive.
Broncos retake lead after picking off Justin Herbert
🏈 Broncos 16, Chargers 13 — 8:21 left in the fourth quarter
Denver’s Baron Browning intercepted a deflected pass from Justin Herbert early in the fourth quarter, setting up a 48-yard field goal by Brandon McManus to put the Broncos back into the lead.
On first down, Herbert tried to find tight end Gerald Everett on a pass deflected by K’Waun Williams and caught by Browning. Chargers receiver Joshua Palmer punched the ball out of Browning’s hands seconds later, prompting a mad scramble for the fumble. Browning managed to jump onto the loose ball.
The Chargers defense then held back Russell Wilson and the Denver offense on the ensuing possession, forcing them to settle for a field goal.
On the ensuing Chargers possession, center Will Clapp left the game with an undisclosed injury. Brenden Jaimes, the third-string center who has only five NFL snaps, takes over at center for L.A.
Brandon Staley’s fourth-down gamble doesn’t pay off
🏈 Broncos 13, Chargers 13 — 14:55 left in the fourth quarter
Brandon Staley continues to come up snake eyes on his fourth-down gambles in fourth quarters.
Denver cornerback Damarri Mathis batted away a Justin Herbert throw intended for receiver DeAndre Carter on the first play of the fourth quarter to turnover the ball on downs at the Denver 29.
The turnover ended a methodical drive that went 41 yards on 11 plays. The possession came after Derwin James sacked Russell Wilson on third down-and-nine to end the Broncos’ second possession of the half.
With kicker Dustin Hopkins dealing with an injured right leg, Staley’s eagerness to go for it on fourth down has probably gone up to 11.
Chargers kick another field goal to tie game
🏈 Broncos 13, Chargers 13 — 9:08 left in third quarter
Dustin Hopkins kicked a 31-yard field goal on the Chargers’ first possession of the third quarter to send the game back into a tie.
The field goal came at the end of a nine-play, 60-yard drive after the Chargers defense forced a three-and-out on the Broncos to open the second half.
Broncos kick field goal to take halftime lead
🏈 Broncos 13, Chargers 10 — halftime
The Chargers struggled to hold back Russell Wilson and the fast-driving Broncos offense just before halftime, with Brandon McManus kicking a 27-yard field goal on the final play of the half to put Denver back ahead.
Against the Chargers, Wilson doesn’t look washed up at all. He completed 12 of 17 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
Getting the ball with 53 seconds left in the half, Wilson quickly drove Denver to the Chargers’ nine-yard line, connecting with KJ Hamler on a 47-yard pass and benefiting from a roughing the passer call on the Chargers’ Morgan Fox. The Chargers finally halted the Broncos in the red zone, with Wilson throwing three incomplete passes as he tried to manage the clock with no timeouts.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert completed 17 of 24 passes for 120 yards in the first half. Austin Ekeler has 20 yards and a touchdown on seven carries for the Chargers.
Chargers kick field goal to tie game in second quarter
🏈 Broncos 10, Chargers 10 — 0:53 left in the second quarter
Dustin Hopkins kicked a 37-yard field goal to tie the game late in the first half.
Justin Herbert and the Chargers drove the ball 69 yards on 13 plays before Broncos linebacker Baron Browning sacked Herbert, setting up a third-and-17 situation the Chargers failed to convert upon. They had converted on four previous third downs on the drive.
A 17-yard catch by Donald Parham and a 13-yard catch by Austin Ekeler, coupled with Broncos cornerback Damarri Mathis being called for a third pass-interference penalty fueled the Chargers’ drive.
Hopkins appeared to grimace after kicking the field goal. He hobbled off after kicking an extra point earlier in the quarter, and he’s coming off a quad injury. He appears to be in pain, but capable of making kicks.
Austin Ekeler touchdown cuts into Broncos’ lead
🏈 Broncos 10, Chargers 7 — 7:40 left in second quarter
With a little help from his (offensive line) friends, Austin Ekeler and the Chargers didn’t waste much time responding to the Broncos’ challenge.
Ekeler scored on a six-yard touchdown run that was aided greatly by a friendly yet powerful push by guard Will Clapp to get the Chargers onto the scoreboard.
The touchdown capped off a 15-play, 82-yard drive that featured Justin Herbert connecting on 10 of 11 passes.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news for the Chargers. Kicker Dustin Hopkins grabbed his leg after his successful extra-point attempt. Hopkins went immediately to the blue medical tent and punter JK Scott kicked off. Hopkins missed last week’s game with a quad injury.
A short time after hobbling off, Hopkins was spotted kicking into the net with his helmet on — he is listed as questionable to return.
Russell Wilson flashes his ‘old’ skills to extend Broncos’ lead
🏈 Broncos 10, Chargers 0 — 1:49 left in the first quarter
The Chargers made Greg Dulcich’s first NFL touchdown as easy as possible.
Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson connected with the wide-open rookie tight end out of UCLA on a 39-yard scoring catch to extend Denver’s lead.
The catch came one play after Wilson escaped the clutches of Chargers pass rushers Khalil Mack and Carlo Kemp to connect on a 37-yard pass to Jerry Jeudy on third and long, showcasing some of the Houdini-like moves that have characterized most of his career.
Wilson has completed all 10 of his pass attempts so far for 116 yards and a touchdown.
The Chargers went three-and-out on their second possession, with a holding penalty on rookie guard Zion Johnson not helping L.A.’s cause.
Broncos jump out to early lead with field goal
🏈 Broncos 3, Chargers 0 — 7:20 left in first quarter
Denver is the first to strike, with Brandon McManis kicking a 51-yard field goal to cap off an eight-play, 46-yard drive.
Chargers linebacker Khalil Mack stopped the Broncos in their tracks when he sacked Russell Wilson on third down.
A 30-yard pass-interference penalty on Broncos cornerback Damarri Mathis and a four-yard catch by wide receiver Michael Bandy on fourth-and-two fueled the Chargers’ drive to the Denver 34 on the game’s first possession.
Denver’s defense finally slowed down the Chargers’ march before a false-start penalty by Will Clapp pushed them out of potential field-goal range.
Why can the Chargers suddenly run again? Austin Ekeler explains what changed
Facing a middle-of-the-pack run defense Sunday, the Chargers blew apart Cleveland’s front en route to amassing 238 yards on the ground.
That was the franchise’s most prolific single-game rushing performance since Week 6 of the 2018 season.
On Monday, the Chargers will face another middle-of-the-pack run defense, Denver — on average — yielding one fewer yard per game than the Browns had entering last weekend.
The similarities guarantee nothing as it relates to production, of course, but it can be reported as fact that the Chargers do feel better about the running game as their Week 6 prime-time matchup approaches.
J.C. Jackson not living up to his $82-million contract for Chargers
Part of the problem, Jackson explained, is that he should be pressing, as in playing a tighter, more aggressive style at the line of scrimmage.
“I’m a bump-and-run corner, a press corner,” Jackson said. “That’s my game. I need to stick to my game.”
The Chargers signed Jackson in March to a five-year deal guaranteeing him $40 million and potentially worth more than double that amount. He cashed in financially after blossoming as an undrafted free agent in New England.
NFL readers Q&A: How did Brandon Staley miss this?
The decision by Brandon Staley to go for the first at the end of the game was odd to say the least. What rationale can he use as his excuse?
David Sanchez, Canoga Park
Miller: Analytically speaking, there was nothing odd about Staley’s decision. Among the fourth-down models that forecast potential outcomes, two of the most prominent — ESPN and Ben Baldwin — favored going for it there. Next Gen Stats had the choice closer to a toss-up. The week before, Staley made the same decision in a similar situation in Houston. The offense picked up the first down in that case and then put the game away. Since that decision worked, no one said a word about it.
Starting center Corey Linsley inactive for Chargers vs. Broncos
The Chargers will be without Pro Bowl center Corey Linsley for their Monday Night Football game against Denver.
Linsley is out because of an illness. Will Clapp is expected to start in his place.
The loss of Linsley could be significant coming a week after the Chargers rushed for a season-high 238 yards at Cleveland. He plays a vital role as a communicator and leader along the offensive front.
The Chargers’ other inactives against the Broncos: wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring), running back Isaiah Spiller, tight end Richard Rodgers, defensive lineman Christian Covington, quarterback Easton Stick and safety JT Woods.
Why fearful Chargers are planning to face the ‘old’ Russell Wilson tonight
No NFL team has been more primetime this season than Denver, which is about to make its fourth such national television appearance.
On Monday night, the Broncos and their former Super Bowl champion quarterback Russell Wilson will face the Chargers at SoFi Stadium.
Now, for the record, Denver’s first three performances haven’t exactly been prime, made-for-TV epics.
While losing to Seattle and Indianapolis and beating San Francisco, the Broncos’ offense had 33 full possessions — and produced two touchdowns. Two.
Behind Wilson, Denver entered Week 6 having scored six offensive touchdowns. Chargers running back Austin Ekeler scored five in the previous two games.
Chargers vs. Broncos matchups, how to watch and score prediction
When the Chargers have the ball
Austin Ekeler is coming off a career-best 173 yards rushing at Cleveland. He also has scored five touchdowns over the last two games. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said he sensed early against the Browns that Ekeler was about the break out.
“Man, this kid is on fire and ready to play today,” Lombardi said he recalled thinking. “I’m sure he was feeling it.” Denver is middle of the pack against the run, ranking 15th overall. But the Broncos are tied for fourth in points allowed, surrendering 16 per game, and — attention, Justin Herbert — have the NFL’s No. 1 defense against the pass.
The Chargers’ Week 5 victory in Cleveland included a late, failed fourth-down attempt. The Chargers are five for 11 on fourth down for the season, those 11 tries tied with Jacksonville for the most in the AFC entering Week 6. Lombardi took the blame for the failure against the Browns, saying he instructed Herbert specifically to throw to Mike Williams, a pass the Browns defended well.
Chargers vs. Denver Broncos: Betting odds, lines and picks against the spread
Chargers coach Brandon Staley should be careful if he plans on dressing up as a cat for Halloween because he may be running out of lives. His fourth-and-one decision with 1:13 left while clinging to a two-point lead at the Chargers 46-yard-line last week could have gone extremely bad. Instead, the Cleveland Browns’ Cade York missed a 54-yard game-winning attempt and the Chargers survived.
The decision prompted social media angst from star wide receiver Keenan Allen, who apparently had a heart-to-heart with Staley when the Chargers returned home. The catch-all term “analytics” is an oversimplification of what goes into the decision-making process, but it has to be presented in a way that will get full buy-in from the players. Staley has made a lot of data-driven decisions in his 22 games at the helm and many of them have been unpopular. At the end of the day, a win is a win, even with the lingering questions.
Broncos at Chargers (-4, 45.5)