Humble Pie: Chargers Devour Packers

Bill Huber

The Green Bay Packers arrived in Los Angeles for some West Coast home cooking against the Chargers.

Instead, they left the Chargers’ green-and-gold clad stadium eating something a lot less tasty.

“This is a good slice of humble pie for us,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said following a 26-11 loss.

The Packers, who carried a 7-1 record and four-game winning streak into the game, were overwhelmed in every phase. The Chargers, with a 3-5 record and a new offensive coordinator, were the hungrier team. And they devoured the Packers at every turn.

- Los Angeles had averaged 37 rushing yards per game the last four weeks and was the first team since the Detroit Lions in 1947 to fail to rush for 40 yards in four consecutive games. Instead, under the direction of interim offensive coordintator Shane Steichen, the Chargers ran roughshod. They ran for 159 yards – more than the 148 of the past four weeks – with Melvin Ingram running for 80 yards and two touchdowns and Austin Ekeler contributing 70.

- Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers had averaged 398 passing yards in three career starts against Green Bay. On Sunday, he completed 75.0 percent of his passes for 294 yards. He had five completions of 18-plus yards.

- Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who had emerged from last week as the favorite to win NFL MVP honors, threw for 161 yards. Exactly 100 of those yards came in the final 10 minutes, 32 seconds, with the Chargers having secured the victory.

- In a marquee matchup between Green Bay’s stud offensive tackles, David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga, and the Chargers’ stud defensive ends, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, Bosa and Ingram scored a decisive victory. They each had 1.5 sacks. Bosa’s fourth-down pressure officially doused the Packers’ smoldering hopes in the final moments.

“Offensively, there was no rhythm whatsoever,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “I want to say we had three false-start penalties, a delay of game, a couple sacks and just never got into rhythm, never really got into the plan. You’ve got to give them all the credit in the world. We knew that they had a great team. They were a playoff team a year ago and they’ve lost some really tight games at the end.”

The only saving grace was Green Bay’s red-zone defense. Otherwise, the beating would have been even more brutal. Los Angeles led only 9-0 at halftime, despite a 250-50 edge in total yardage, because it failed to score in three trips inside Green Bay’s 20-yard line.

“That was the only thing that kind of kept us in the game at the half. I mean, they scored three times and it was three field goals. You’ve got a two-possession game,” LaFleur said.

The defense got one more stop, this time from just outside the red zone, to start the second half. Still, the Chargers led 12-0 and Green Bay badly needed a drive. Instead, for the fourth time in five possessions, the Packers failed to gain even 10 yards. Chargers linebacker Dru Tranquill beat B.J. Goodson and blocked JK Scott’s punt. The Chargers took possession at the 27 and finally got a taste of the end zone on Gordon’s 1-yard run. At that point, with a 19-0 margin, the game was unofficially over.

Tremon Smith’s 36-yard kickoff return to the 40 helped get the Packers on the board with Mason Crosby’s 54-yard field goal. However, the Chargers marched 75 yards, with Gordon blasting in from the 1 on fourth-and-goal. Initially, Green Bay got another red-zone stop but cornerback Tony Brown was offside on the chip-shot field goal. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn ran the offense back on the field and got the clinching touchdown.

“Part of me was kind of glad they were going for it because it would have been a two-possession game,” LaFleur said.

If the Packers are indeed a Super Bowl contender, they’ll let the bitter taste of defeat linger on their collective palette and come back much more focused to face Carolina at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

“This was a good learning experience for us,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got to come ready to play. I don’t think we were locked in from the start, unfortunately. I’m not sure exactly the reason but I don’t think the focus was there from the start. So, we’ve got to look in the mirror and be very honest about our performance – myself first – and then our offense and our energy and our attention to detail, and we’ve got to get better.”