1.Don’t doubt Dustin Hopkins’ toughness. The Chargers’ kicker, Dustin Hopkins, was forced to leave the game after sustaining a hamstring injury on his first kick of night. This extra point came following an Austin Ekeler touchdown. It was easy to conclude that his night was over when the team declared him unfit to return to the game in the first period. The Chargers didn’t realize how important their kicker would be Monday, which is likely what they did not know. Hopkins quickly returned to the action and snuck a 37-yard field kick inside the left upright. He fell down in pain after the ball passed the goalpost. His field goal tied it at 10, and was just one of four crucial kicks. Hopkins had to endure the pain and each scored three points. The final of four kicks, all from 31 to 39 yards away, was the most crucial. It lifted the Chargers to a 19-16 overtime victory. Los Angeles had a chance at winning until a muffed punt broke the tie. Hopkins said that he felt a pop at the PAT where he had been injured after it was over. Hopkins managed to overcome the pain thanks to his resilience, and the warmth of the Hyperice heating wrap.
2. Even if it was only for a quarter of a game, Russell Wilson’s vintage skills were rediscovered. For most of the 2022 season Denver’s offense was buried in mud. But Wilson briefly regained his ability to extend plays downfield and find open targets. Wilson hit Jerry Jeudy with a bullet down the right sideline, gaining 37 yards on third-and-13. This put the Broncos in Charger territory. Wilson escaped from the pocket again and fired another dart to rookie tight-end Greg Dulcich. He rushed 39 yards for his first touchdown. The Broncos’ fans had suddenly reason to believe that the Wilson they had been waiting for from Seattle was finally here. But that was it. The offense of Denver was back in the cellar and Wilson completed only 3 of his 11 final passes in overtime and the second half. The Broncos managed just three points in the second quarter and were unable to get within Brandon McManus’ reach for a winning field goal. Monday night was a moment of hope, but it quickly vanished, sending the Broncos down to a previously unimaginable 2-4 in six weeks.
3.Denver’s defense still deserves better. The league’s third-ranked defense was the Broncos entering Week 6. This unit tied for fourth in scoring, and first in passing. They are good, but they are still disappointed by Denver’s offense. Los Angeles was held to 297 yards total offense by the Broncos and 73 yards on the ground by the Broncos, who shut down the Chargers’ offense for most of the night. Denver effectively eliminated the Chargers deep ball offense, with Keenan Allen still out of action and Patrick Surtain securing Mike Williams. Justin Herbert threw 56 passes, with the majority being checkdowns. Baron Browning was a threat, recording one sack as well as catching an interception pass by deflected pass. This strategy should result in wins for the Broncos. They lost yet another disappointing game as their offense couldn’t take on the entire responsibility. Nathaniel Hackett, a man hired to be offensively minded, has failed six of the six week test.
4.Chargers don’t get a good return on their J.C. Jackson investments. The Chargers are not getting a quality return on their J.C. Jackson investment. Jackson was often out of position in Monday night’s game. After playing 23 snaps in halftime, Jackson was replaced by Michael Davis in overtime and the second half. Jackson played nine more snaps than Davis, Asante Samuel took every defensive snap, and Bryce Callahan occupied the field for 76% of snaps. Jackson watched the overtime and final quarters from the sidelines. The Chargers’ coaching staff deserves credit for ignoring the $82.5 million five-year deal Jackson signed and replacing him with a player they could trust to do the job. The story of Jackson’s benching will be a major one that we will continue to follow. We will also keep an eye on it. It’s not looking great for Jackson right now.
5.Dirty laundry, everywhere. The Broncos have a reputation of being messy and disorganized well before Monday night. It was therefore not surprising to see them take 10 penalties for 151 yards. Surprisingly, the Chargers were almost as inept as the Broncos regarding infractions. According to NFL Research, Monday’s first half saw 147 combined penalty yards. This is the highest total since Week 3 of 2018, when there were 156 infractions. The total combined penalty yards for the game was 240. The game was sloppy from both teams. This, combined with their low offensive production, made it seem like the game was heading towards a tie. However, the Chargers were able to score within the scoring range thanks to a muffed kick. Hopkins’ injury to his leg resulted in a win. However, for prime-time, it was an ugly performance that both teams would like to rectify quickly — especially if the Chiefs are to catch up in the AFC West.
Next Gen Stat of Monday: Mike Williams failed to catch any of his four targets Monday night after racking up 10 receptions of 243 yards and 2 touchdowns on passes of 10-plus yards. Justin Herbert completed only 4 of 12 passes for 67 yards.
NFL Research: Austin Ekeler, with a second-quarter rushing touchdown, became the eighth player to reach 25+ rushing touchdowns and 25+ receiving touchdowns during his career. Ekeler is also the only player to surpass these marks in his six first NFL seasons. He shares that distinction with Lenny Moore, a Pro Football Hall of Famer.