Melvin Gordon barely has an impact on Chargers in his season debut
But his return didn’t help the offense as expected Sunday when the Chargers sputtered badly in a 20-13 loss to Denver.
Afterward, coach Anthony Lynn dismissed the suggestion that Gordon rejoining the team somehow hurt the chemistry on offense.
“No, not at all,” he said. “Melvin’s a good football player … but he wasn’t ready to play a whole game. So I didn’t play him a whole game. He didn’t have many opportunities, I can tell you that. But he played OK.”
Gordon carried 12 times for 31 yards and caught four passes for seven yards. As a team, the Chargers generated only 35 yards on 16 attempts on the ground.
Veteran Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has been in this boat before, another slow start at 2-3, and knows playoff chances hinge on a fast recovery.
Last week, in a 26-24 loss at home to Jacksonville, the Broncos gave up 229 rushing yards -- in the second half alone.
Gordon’s return made Austin Ekeler more of a receiver Sunday. The third-year running back caught 15 passes but gained only 86 yards on them. Ekeler carried just three times for seven yards.
Lynn said Gordon did appear rusty. The Chargers have practiced in full pads just once since since he rejoined them Sept. 26. They scaled back team drills last week because of their mounting injuries.
“Based on what I saw on the sidelines, he’s all right,” Lynn said. “I know he is going to get better…. The more he practices, the better he’s going to get.”
For the second time this season, Austin Ekeler fumbles at the one-yard line as the Chargers’ back tries to run for touchdown.
The lowlight for the Chargers’ running backs came on the final play of the first half. Ekeler fumbled for a touchback when he was cut off trying to reach the front end-zone pylon.
Ekeler said he thought he would have scored had he not fumbled but replays suggested otherwise.
The play came on fourth-and-goal at the Denver 1-yard line, Lynn opting to forgo a field-goal try. The Chargers then went into halftime trailing 17-0.
“That was my decision, trying to create some momentum in this football team,” Lynn said. “Trying to get us a score before the half and come back out and get the ball again and get another score. I gambled and I lost.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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