What we learned from the Chargers’ 39-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday:
PHILIP RIVERS ISN’T TAKING 2020 AS A CERTAINTY: The Chargers and their franchise-icon quarterback both continue to indicate they are interested in extending their relationship at least through next season, when the team will play in the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. But the reality remains that Rivers is unsigned after this year and still will consult with his family before making any definitive plans. The Chargers also have to remain steadfast in the idea that Rivers is their quarterback beyond this season. “I think when the dust settles on Dec. 29th and 30th … it will all play out,” Rivers said. “I think with that uncertainty, it does add some emotion, and it adds some intentional appreciation for what could be the last two [games] even though they may not be. I think just with that uncertainty comes that approach and emotion.” The Chargers finish with a home game against Oakland and a visit to Kansas City. After Rivers, there is no obvious quarterback of the future for this team. Veteran Tyrod Taylor is the current backup and Easton Stick, a fifth-round pick in April, remains a longer-term project. Stick has been inactive for each game.
MIKE WILLIAMS CONTINUES TO EMERGE: The Chargers’ No. 2 wide receiver had another touchdown and another completed deep ball. Rivers, in what has become the latest Chargers tradition, lofted a first-quarter pass down the middle that Williams managed to bring down for a 39-yard gain. The play set up the Chargers’ first points, a 41-yard field goal by Michael Badgley. Their only touchdown came on a Rivers-to-Williams two-yard connection in the second quarter. Williams, who is 6-foot-4, went over Minnesota cornerback Mike Hughes, who’s 5-10, for his second touchdown in as many weeks. Williams did all this -- again -- while playing with a knee that has been bothering him most of the season. “I’m still making plays,” he said. “I’m used to it.” Said coach Anthony Lynn: “Mike’s playing through it. Everybody in the National Football League is hurt right now, but Mike is playing through it.” Williams finished with four receptions for 71 yards.
TOPPING 100 YARDS RUSHING AND RECEIVING IN THE SAME GAME IS REALLY NOT EASY: As a follow-up to his ridiculous performance in Jacksonville, Austin Ekeler finished with 19 yards rushing (on seven carries) and 62 yards receiving (on five catches). That means the dynamic running back didn’t even reach 100 total yards. Against the Jaguars, Ekeler had 101 yards on the ground and 112 through the air. Only three Chargers -- including the postseason -- have ever pulled off football’s rare double-triple. Ekeler was asked afterward if he thought the Chargers being eliminated from playoff contention last week led to their 29-point loss Sunday. “I was talking to the guys … like, ‘What? Nothing was different,’” he said. “The mindset wasn’t different. We were practicing hard still. Coming out like: ‘Hey, let’s go win a game. Hey, we’re not in the playoff picture anymore but we’re still playing for each other and our fans.’” In the end, the Chargers and Ekeler came up decidedly short.
KEENAN ALLEN IS THE EMBODIMENT OF CONSISTENCY: The seventh-year wide receiver caught nine passes for 99 yards to top the 1,000-yard mark for the third consecutive season. “Just staying consistent, staying available,” Allen said. “Doing my job.” The three-season streak matches the second-longest in franchise history. Charlie Joiner (1979-81) and John Jefferson (1978-80) also reached 1,000 yards receiving three seasons in a row. The team record is seven seasons set in the 1960s by Lance Alworth. Allen has been a Pro Bowler each of the last two seasons and could be one again. The initial rosters will be announced Tuesday. The three straight 1,000-yard seasons have come immediately after Allen missed all but one game in 2016 because of a knee injury. He has four 1,000-yard seasons total.