Chargers take care of Giants with bigger game ahead Thursday against Chiefs
Given the opportunity to look past the New York Giants, the Chargers instead rolled through them.
Now, they can do what everyone else already was doing before Sunday: They can focus on Kansas City.
“It’s gonna be a great ballgame,” coach Brandon Staley said. “It’s gonna be great for the NFL. We got to get right to work.”
Right to work because the Chiefs will be at SoFi Stadium on Thursday for a Week 15 meeting that will be for first place in the AFC West.
The Chargers’ 37-21 win over the Giants might be a part of their story to fight for a playoff spot, but this game will be remembered for Justin Herbert’s 59-yard TD throw.
The Chargers defeated the Chiefs on the road in late September by scoring a touchdown in the final minute.
The rematch will feature limited preparation, the condensed schedule only adding to the intensity.
“We’ll be ready.” Staley said. “They’re a tough cover no matter how many days [you have]. If it was a bye week, it would be a tough cover. What I think makes games like this so unique is both sides have to go through it.”
The Chargers arrived at Chiefs week by handling a weak version of the Giants, who were without their starting quarterback, Daniel Jones, and had to turn to long-time NFL backup Mike Glennon.
After a 7-7 first quarter, the Chargers produced the game’s next 30 points as the defense forced four straight three-and-outs in one stretch and the offense scored on six of seven possessions.
“I really liked the way we competed in the game,” Staley said. “I felt like we played with a lot of purpose. I felt like it was a complete performance.”
Quarterback Justin Herbert finished 23 of 31 for 275 yards and three touchdowns, one coming on a spectacular 59-yard connection to Jalen Guyton just before halftime.
Rookie Josh Palmer also caught a touchdown pass and had five receptions for 66 yards as the Chargers won without Keenan Allen, who remains on the COVID-19 reserve list.
“What was encouraging for us was the variety of people that touched the football,” Staley said. “When you have your young receivers play like that, it gives you a lot of confidence.”
Austin Ekeler had a touchdown — his 16th of the season — and rushed 12 times for 67 yards, the Chargers dominating into the fourth quarter.
In improving to 8-5, they won consecutive games for the first time since early October and now have taken three of their last four.
“Stringing these games together makes you feel good because you feel like you’re putting things together and competing on an elite level,” defensive tackle Justin Jones said. “I feel like our team is really coming along and really coming alive right now.”
Jones had a sack and a fumble recovery. Joey Bosa had a sack, three other quarterback hits and caused a fumble. Michael Davis broke up four passes and Kyzir White had a game-high 10 tackles.
All this came on a day when the Chargers were missing their most dynamic defender and play caller. Safety Derwin James Jr. was unavailable because of a hamstring injury that surfaced following practice Friday.
“I didn’t want to push it with a hamstring and knowing how he plays, too,” Staley said. “So, hoping for a good recovery here and we can get him back Thursday night.”
Breaking down the notable numbers behind the Chargers’ 37-21 victory over the New York Giants at SoFi Stadium on Sunday — scoring and statistics.
The Chargers do seem to be trending in a healthier direction. Allen is expected to rejoin the team in time to play against Kansas City “barring a setback,” Staley said. Starting cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. is nearing a return from the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Ekeler left the game Sunday midway through the third quarter because of an ankle issue, but Staley said he could have returned if necessary.
Bosa shined after missing the final three quarters of the Chargers’ Week 13 victory at Cincinnati following an evaluation for a head injury. Although he was cleared medically to return against the Bengals, the Chargers opted to hold him out.
“I love the way he came back,” Staley said. “I think you can see the advantage of the decision that we made last week. He came back free and he played like it.”
Quarterback Justin Herbert spearheaded the Chargers’ 37-21 victory over the New York Giants. Check out some of the game’s biggest moments here.
Similar to the Chargers, the Chiefs are surging. They’ve won six in a row to improve to 9-4. They’ve given up more than 17 points to only one of their last eight opponents.
But none of those teams have Herbert, who produced a season-high 133.1 rating against New York. He completed passes to nine different teammates, including tight end Jared Cook, who had the Chargers’ final touchdown.
Herbert’s rainbow to Guyton near the end of the second quarter ignited SoFi Stadium, in particular.
“Fans are just like me and you,” Staley said. “They know something special when they see it. When they see something special, they’re gonna cheer a lot louder than normal.”
So here comes Kansas City and a Thursday night that could generate even more noise.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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