Joey Bosa was so good Sunday that his pass rush produced one of the most significant moments in the Chargers’ 17-16 victory over Chicago and he, technically speaking, received zero credit.
The dynamic defensive end had another headline-stealing afternoon, piling up plenty of memories and even largely deciding the game with a play that history will forget. At least statistically.
“That guy took over the game and really, I feel like, won the game for us,” tight end Hunter Henry said. “We were all like, ‘Dang.’ When we needed a big play, Joey came through. Super glad we have a guy like that.”
Bosa finished Sunday with seven tackles — including two for loss — two sacks and a third quarterback hit. But he collected no stats for aiding mightily in a Mitch Trubisky fumble that gave the Chargers the ball at the Chicago 26-yard line midway through the fourth quarter.
Teammate Melvin Ingram recovered, setting up the Chargers offense for a quick three-play series that produced Austin Ekeler’s eventual game-winning touchdown on an 11-yard reception.
Starting from his customary edge position, Bosa bullied Bears left tackle Charles Leno Jr. backward and nearly into Trubisky, who, while attempting to flee, dropped the ball.
As Ingram was scrambling to pick it up, Bosa continued his generally destructive ways by shoving right guard Rashaad Coward face-first into the pile. Then he turned to the Chargers bench and flexed his muscles twice and received a friendly, congratulatory head-butt from cornerback Casey Hayward.
Since he never actually hit Trubisky, Bosa was rewarded no statistical recognition even though his impact on the play was obvious.
“Joey’s been doing that all year,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “He’s an excellent football player, very unselfish.”
Before the past two weeks, Bosa had six two-sack games in his career. Now he’s had two sacks in back-to-back weeks. He has finished only one game with more than seven tackles and that was the 2019 season opener, when he had eight stops against Indianapolis.
Lynn also has praised Bosa throughout the season for his work in stopping the run. He has been credited with 42 tackles, a pace that easily would set a career high in his fourth NFL season.
“Joey Bosa has been playing outstanding,” Lynn said. “His efforts to play against the run game and, you know, he’s a pass rusher. But [he] plays a lot of tighter techniques to help us stop the run.
“That’s very unselfish of him to play the run more than going after the passer. Says a lot about him as a person and a teammate. But he’s just, I mean, he’s all over the place. I can’t say enough good things about him, just the effort he’s giving.”
Bosa’s recent performances have attracted growing national attention during a season in which the 3-5 Chargers have mostly faded from the spotlight. He has one year remaining on his rookie contract and is setting himself up to become one of the NFL’s highest-paid players.
Gordon stays put
The trade deadline passed Tuesday with the Chargers making no deals. Running back Melvin Gordon had been a popular target for other teams going back to his contract holdout.
But because Gordon is unsigned beyond this season and has struggled in his four games since returning from a holdout, his trade value was too low for the Chargers to seriously consider moving him.
Instead, they’ll continue to attempt to get Gordon and their sagging ground game going, the next opportunity coming Sunday at home against Green Bay.
Quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen is now expected to call plays, with Lynn also having input. Lynn has indicated that every offensive call passed through him while Whisenhunt was still with the team. Steichen, 34, is in his fourth season coaching the Chargers quarterbacks.
Over their past four games, the Chargers have gained only 142 yards on 63 carries, an average of 2.3 yards per attempt. For the season, they are averaging 69.5 rushing yards, the second-lowest total in franchise history through eight games. They are 28th in the league with a per-carry average of 3.5 yards.
Lynn said he believes a team needs to average 4.3 yards to be effective.
Badgley to return
The Chargers released rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin on Tuesday, suggesting that Michael Badgley is finally ready to make his 2019 debut after missing eight games because of a groin injury.
McLaughlin converted six of nine field-goal tries and all seven of his extra points after taking over for Ty Long, the Chargers punter who doubled as kicker for four games before injuring his plant foot.
The Chargers also promoted cornerback Tevaughn Campbell to the active roster and re-signed offensive tackle Tyree St. Louis to the practice squad.