All offseason, the talk when it came to the Chargers was how they were going to fix that offensive line. They made numerous signings and even used two draft picks on the offensive line.
On Sunday, that new offensive line with only one returning starter had a great game. There was a lot made of them not having any preseason game reps together or if they could mesh. They did--at least for now.
They gave up two sacks, one of them late in the second quarter when the Chargers were in the red zone. Quarterback Justin Herbert couldn't find anyone, and Jonathan Allen wrapped him up.
"Those are some real guys on the front seven they got," explained Herbert." Those are fast guys and some of the toughest in the league. I thought that our offensive line did an incredible job. In the first half, I was kept clean all day, and even Storm Norton came in and did a great job. One of the balls that I ended up getting stripped back because a lot quicker, but I thought the offensive line did a great job."
The other sack was in the middle of the third quarter when Herbert dropped back and was hit by Montez Sweat while throwing a pass to Jared Cook. The referees ended up calling it a fumble, saying that Herbert's hand didn't come all the way through. The ball had gone out of the end zone, so they called it a strip-sack and Washington's ball.
"I felt like I threw it, I'd have to take a look at it," said Herbert. "It's a tough call. The defense came up big with a big stop. Glad to get the ball back and go up and score."
Herbert really never faced all that much pressure the rest of the game. He typically had a clean pocket even when Bryan Bulaga went out with a back injury, and Storm Norton came in for him.
The defense would come up big for the rest of the game. On that next drive, there was a third-and 10 when quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw a pass to receiver Dyami Brown with cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. coming in fast to tackle him and force a kick.
"What he did, to your point, was he responded in the game yet a couple of days back, like that empty, like kind of throw out there to the flat where he made a big tackle. I think they missed a field goal after that big third-down like that," said Staley. "I mean, that's a lonely tackle now. He's finished that tackle, which was outstanding, and then to show his toughness, it's like the thing about the guy, he gets involved, and that's what he did is he, and he went got the football, and he's got real toughness."
Dustin Hopkins would miss a 51-yard field goal.
On the next drive, the Chargers offense drives up the field, and Herbert ended up making a mistake trying to throw the ball to tight end Stephen Anderson. He lets it float a little bit too much, and cornerback Williams Jackson gets the interception.
Herbert said after the game that the team knew they would get the ball back.
"The guys never had a doubt," said Herbert. "They came off the sidelines and said, 'Justin, we got your back, and I appreciate that, and I'm going to go back out there and keep shooting."
Herbert is a shooter, and everyone knows shooters shoot.
The defense came up clutch on the next play when running back Antonio Gibson took a handoff and was met with a tackle by Samuel, which made him jump in the air, so linebacker Kyzir White came in and stripped him. Kenneth Murray would recover the ball.
It led to a touchdown pass from Herbert to receiver Mike Williams.
The Chargers defense was able to stop Washington's offense on the next drive to which the away team bled the clock to end the game.
There is some stuff the team does need to work on, like Keenan Allen having two uncharacteristic drops and them being on third down.
It was like in the first half Herbert and tight end Jared Cook's timing was off, but in the second half, they stepped it up.
The Chargers were also pretty bad in the red zone. The visiting team had six trips to the red zone, and if they had converted, all six could have made this game a blowout. They only converted twice, with one of them being running back Austin Ekeler's first drive touchdown and the Williams one after the fumble.
Before facing Dallas next weekend, the Chargers have some things to work on, but overall, it was a team effort from the offensive line to the defense to pull out this victory.
Nuts N’ Bolts
· Right tackle Bryan Bulaga left with a back injury and never returned.
· Defensive tackle Justin Jones left with cramps and didn’t return.