It was a painful day to be a Los Angeles football fan. Both the Chargers and the Rams fell in Week 8 of the NFL season, but are looking to come back strong in the second half of the season.
Denver Broncos 31, Los Angeles Chargers 30
The Chargers-Broncos game in Week 8 came down to the last second of the game when Denver quarterback Drew Lock threw the tying touchdown pass to KJ Hamler and secured the win with Brandon McManus’s extra point. With the 31-30 loss, the Chargers are at the bottom of the AFC West with a record of 2-5 on the season.
This was the fourth straight game the Chargers have blown a lead of 16 points or more. In the first half, the Chargers' defense held the Broncos offense to 62 total yards and only two first-down conversions. This continued into the third quarter where the Bolts stretched their lead to 21 points with Badgley’s 52-yard field goal, as season long.
While Justin Herbert was slow to start in the first quarter, he gained traction when he threw his first touchdown of the game with a 9-yard pass to wide receiver Keenan Allen on 3rd-and-goal. He went 7-of-7 on completions in that second quarter drive and was able to throw a tight-slant pass to Allen in the red-zone.
Allen has the most third-down catches in the NFL since 2017 and has made four straight Pro Bowls. Allen had nine receptions for 67 yards and one touchdown in the game while another veteran, Mike Williams, had five receptions for 99 yards with a touchdown.
In terms of the rushing game for the Chargers, Justin Jackson, Josh Kelley, and Troymaine Pope all carried the ball well for the Bolts. While standout rusher Austin Ekeler is not active due to injury, Jackson is looking to overtake that starting position. He had two good carries for over 20 yards each and provided a nice block for Herbert so he was able to connect with Williams for a crucial touchdown pass.
This was also the first time Melvin Gordon had faced his former team since he had agreed to a two-year contract with the Broncos. While Gordon was stuffed in the first half by Melvin Ingram and the Charger defense, Gordon had eight carries for 26 yards.
Since the 2019 season, the L.A. Chargers have had 16 games decided by seven points or fewer. The Chargers need to figure out how to mentally and physically finish games. They’re losing winnable games to lazy mistakes and last-minute turnovers.
“I think we’re really close. It’s going to take a little bit more each week and didn’t go our way this week. We just have to keep executing” Herbert said after the game. “I can’t throw an interception and we can’t settle for a field goal in the red-zone. It’s all about finishing strong and sustaining those drives and staying consistent on offense”.
While rookie Justin Herbert has only had 6 career starts after acquiring the position over veteran Tyrod Taylor, the AFC rookie of the month was able to move well off the ball and under pressure while maintaining a high football IQ.
When asked about issues protecting leads, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said, “It’s frustrating, I saw too much good on the football field today. We had the game under control and then not to make the plays in the fourth quarter to finish the game was very disappointing and frustrating.” Lynn was also asked about potential coaching changes, but he declined to comment.
With young Herbert and veteran Allen heading the offense, the Chargers need to continue to capitalize on both sides of the ball while staying present in all four quarters and executing at the right times.
Miami Dolphins 28, Los Angeles Rams 17
The Los Angeles Rams took a 28-17 defeat Sunday, falling to rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. With the disappointing loss, the Rams' record falls to 5-3, putting them in third place in the NFC West.
Quarterback Jared Goff and the rest of the offense were shut down by Jerome Baker and the Miami defense. The Rams appeared frustrated and disoriented, especially in the first half when Miami scored touchdowns on both sides of the ball along with special teams.
The first half was disastrous for Goff as he threw two interceptions, was strip-sacked and went 4-of-12 for 32 yards. However, Goff recovered in the second half and finished the game 35-of-61 for 355 yards.
Former USC wide receiver Robert Woods had seven receptions for 85 yards and was credited with the Rams' only two touchdowns of the day. He had a 4-yard run in the first quarter and received an 11-yard touchdown pass from Goff late in the fourth quarter.
While the Rams are known for keeping the ball on the ground, they strayed away from the run game on Sunday. Starting running back Darrell Henderson had eight carries and rushed for 47 yards before a thigh injury kept him from finishing the game. This allowed for second-round draft pick Cam Akers to see some reps, gaining 35 yards on nine carries.
Although Tua Tagovailoa got his first career win as a starter, the Rams' defense gave him a bit of a welcome present into the NFL. Two-time defensive player of the year Aaron Donald strip-sacked the quarterback on his second snap and the rest of the defense held the Dolphins to 145 total yards.
Micah Kiser led the Rams' defense with six tackles. They were able to pressure the Dolphins' rookie quarterback, causing him to scramble and throw out of the pocket.
“I think this is going to hurt, this one we missed an opportunity here. It starts with me and I have to be a lot better for us,” Goff commented after the game. “Their defense played really well and gave us all the opportunities we needed. We have to win some games and we’ll be ready to roll.”
After a bye this week, the Rams' next game will be back home at Sofi Stadium against MVP candidate Russel Wilson and the first-place Seattle Seahawks.
As for the Chargers, they must win their upcoming game against the Las Vegas Raiders. With the Raiders and the Chiefs both winning their games on Sunday, the Chargers' playoff chances are dwindling.
Don’t give up on these Los Angeles teams just yet. The season is only halfway complete, there’s still plenty of football to be played.