By Dave Thomas
With so much to play for, the Los Angeles Chargers could have easily overlooked the 0-11 Cleveland Browns when they limped into the greater Los Angeles area Sunday to play the Bolts.
Despite looking sluggish at times, the Chargers came away with their sixth win in the last eight games, scoring a 19-10 victory over the still winless Browns.
After scoring a combined 82 points in their last two games, the Chargers could only muster 19 on this day. That said, it was more than enough to beat a team that very well could go 0-16 this season when all is said and done.
In beating the Browns, the Chargers mainly relied on their stingy defense to get the job done. Going against a rookie QB in DeShone Kizer didn’t hurt, either. When this game was over, Kizer had been held to a mere 10-of-22 passing for 114 yards and one TD.
So, with their third straight win, the Chargers now prepare to host Washington next Sunday before heading out on the road for games with Kansas City and the New York Jets, respectively.
There was really nothing overly exciting about the Los Angeles offense on this early December afternoon. Quarterback Philip Rivers went 31-of-43 for 344 yards and one score. The Los Angeles rushing attack failed to put together any sparkling numbers, with starting back Melvin Gordon tallying 77 yards on 19 carries. Through the air, wide receiver Keenan Allen continued his tear in recent weeks, catching 10 balls for 105 yards and a score.
Defense: A –
After holding Dallas to a mere six points on Thanksgiving Day, the Chargers were equally up to the task against the worst team in the league. Cleveland hurt itself too with turnovers (one fumble lost), including an interception by Adrian Philips in the final two minutes to ice the victory for the Bolts. Leading the way for Los Angeles on this day would be Joey Bosa (seven solo tackles, one sack), Desmond King (six solo tackles, one sack) and Jahleel Addae (six solo stops).
Special Teams: B –
With starting placekicker Nick Novak still out nursing a bad back, the Bolts had to turn to Travis Coons to handle the kicking duties. All Coons did on this day was connect on all four field goal attempts (21, 40, 22, 27) and an extra point. Although this game wasn’t the closest one the Chargers have played this season, being able to hit extra points and possibly even game-winning field goals down the stretch of December could prove huge. For now, Coons handles such duties.
Coaching: A –
Enough can’t be said about the job rookie head coach Anthony Lynn has done this season. Sure, the Chargers are only sitting at .500 with a 6-6 record. That said, they could have easily gone in the tank after beginning the season 0-4. Lynn held the team together despite that horrific start. The reward now is a three-way tie for first in the AFC West with Kansas City and Oakland. In head-to-head meetings, Los Angeles lost to Kansas City, while beating Oakland. The Chargers will get both teams one more time before the month is out.
Los Angeles hosts Washington before it returns to an AFC slate of games to finish the season (at Kansas City, at New York Jets, home to Oakland). The Redskins are sitting at 5-7, having lost to arch-rival Dallas 38-14 in their last game. Washington leads the all-time series with Los Angeles 7-3. The two last met in 2013, with Washington winning 30-24 in overtime.