The Green Bay Packers suffered their second loss of the season. This time, it was at the hands of the Los Angeles Chargers by a score of 26-11. Green Bay falls to 7-2 while Los Angeles inches closer to .500 with a 4-5 record. Here is the full recap of the Packers @ Chargers game.
Reversal of Fortunes
Last week, the Packers earned a victory in part due to their ability to execute long drives. The Chargers took a page out of that book and had an opening possession that lasted 8:04. After committing a penalty on the kickoff, Los Angeles began with the football at their own 5-yard line. In an effective use of both the run and pass game, the Chargers moved the ball effectively down the length of the field. In fact, Los Angeles never faced a 3rd down until they were on the Packers 11-yard line.
For this opening possession, the Chargers offensive line did a great job of opening running lanes and protecting the quarterback. For his part, Philip Rivers did himself some favors by throwing mostly a series of quick passes. It was only once Los Angeles got into a goal-to-go situation that the Packers pass rush began to provide pressure. A 2nd-down sack by Tyler Lancaster and Za’Darius Smith created a 3rd-and goal from the 11, and Rivers threw the attempt incomplete. Michael Badgley, in his 2019 debut after being injured, kicked the 29-yard FG to give the Chargers a 3-0 lead.
Another player making his return to action was wide receiver, Davante Adams. After a reception for a loss of one yard, followed by a penalty, the Packers were in deep right off the bat. Adams did his best to pull them out by making an 8-yard catch to set up a 3rd-and-long situation.
In my game preview, I mentioned that the battle between the Chargers edge rushers and the Packers tackles would be key to the outcome of this game. Both Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram impacted the match early and often. On that 3rd-and-8 play, both Bosa and Ingram were on the defensive right side of the formation. It was a great design by Gus Bradley and something that he used a few times throughout the game with success. In this instance, Bosa beat David Bakhtiari 1-on1, while Elgton Jenkins had trouble stopping Ingram. Technically, Bosa got credit for the sack, but Ingram was right there to help drop Aaron Rodgers and end the drive.
Big Player – Big Play
After the Packers punt, the Chargers once again got into FG range. The series of short passing plays continued as Mike Williams, who was lined up in the slot, ran a shallow crossing route. After gaining separation from Jaire Alexander, Williams took the pass, which traveled 3 yards past the line of scrimmage, down the sideline for a 56-yard gain. While Alexander has had a great season, he has been susceptible to giving up plays to bigger-bodied receivers.
It was an efficient game for Williams as he produced 111 yards on only 3 receptions. It was actually his first 100-yard game of the season. For arguably the first time since Week 2 against the Lions, Williams demonstrated the big-play potential that made him the 7th-overall pick in 2017.
After that Williams catch, the Chargers couldn’t get too much more going. A Preston Smith sack put them behind the chains and eventually Badgely came on to kick another FG. He gave Los Angeles a 6-0 first quarter lead.
Both teams displayed defensive dominance for the remainder of the first half. After the Chargers’ second FG attempt, three straight possessions ended in punts.
Gus Bradley kept dialing up play calls where Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram were lined up on the same side. Corey Linsley really struggled at diagnosing those plays and deciding which side to slide towards. On a 3rd down during this second drive, Linsley was late helping out Billy Turner at blocking Melvin Ingram. The defender then got to Aaron Rodgers for another sack.
After the Packers punted, their defense got a stop, but not before Austin Ekeler gained a 1st-down on the ground. It was a nice cut-back that gained 16 yards for the Chargers. On the next play, Green Bay had one of the few moments where a run was held to no gain. That forced Los Angeles to throw on the next two plays but could not get another 1st-down.
On the ensuing Packers possession, penalties began to creep in and affect their ability to gain field position. A Chargers penalty is what kept the drive alive for the Packers who finally crossed the 50 yard line for the first time about 24 minutes into the game. However, the Packers could not do much more and punted once again.
The Chargers regained the football at their own 8-yard line with 4:21 left in the half. Melvin Gordon immediately gained 6 yards on a run up the middle, followed by a 2-yard reception by Austin Ekeler. This set up a key 3rd-and-2 play. If the Packers held them, they would get the ball just before halftime with the chance to get on the scoreboard.
Instead, Ekeler ran 7 yards up the middle to keep the drive alive. Kenny Clark was held in check most of the day and that includes on that 3rd-and-2. While the Chargers did at times double team Clark with offensive linemen, that was not the case on this particular play. Center Scott Quessenberry managed to block Clark alone and opened a hole for Ekeler to run through. It’s the type of play that Clark needs to win 1-on-1. His inability to consistently get off his blocks was arguably one of the biggest reasons for the Chargers’ offensive dominance.
Philip Rivers did a great job of utilizing the clock and managed to get his team in FG range once again. As time expired on the 1st half, Badgely produced another 3 points to give the Chargers a 9-0 lead heading into the break.
2nd Half – 2nd Chance
The Packers had a second chance to right the ship before things got out of control. They began the third quarter with a 3-and-out and punted for the fourth straight time. Offensively, they kept enduring negative run plays and Aaron Rodgers could not connect with Jake Kumerow deep on 3rd-down.
Defensively, a particular struggle in recent weeks has been biting on fakes. That happened once more on the ensuing drive as the Chargers ran a double fake reverse and Rivers found Keenan Allen up the seam for 20 yards. A couple of plays later, Melvin Gordon had a 16-yard run, his longest of the game. He even hurdled over the would-be tackle of Chandon Sullivan.
Eventually, Kenny Clark made his most impactful play of the game. On 3rd-and-3, Clark beat his 1-on-1 block and put pressure on Rivers, forcing the rushed throw to fall incomplete. Badgely came on once again to make his 4th FG of the game and extend the Chargers lead to 12-0.
The very next possession, big surprise, the Packers punted once again. That’s five in a row for those keeping score. The Chargers tallied another sack, only this time Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram were each on their own sides instead of overloading to one. The result was a meeting at the quarterback between the two edge rushers. Bosa best David Bakhtiari while Melvin Ingram got past Bryan Bulaga. While Bulaga (with the help of Billy Turner) held Bosa in check on the next play, Aaron Rodgers overthrew Davante Adams and the Packers punted. Next, for the first time this season, J.K. Scott‘s attempt was blocked. Danny Vitale picked the wrong gap to block and Drue Tranquill got through to hit the ball just after it left Scott’s foot.
The Chargers were set up with great field position at the Packers 27-yard line. They capitalized and found the end zone for the first time in this game. Before that, Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon each ran for a 1st-down to set up a 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Considering how bad the Packers run defense had been throughout the game, it is no surprise that Gordon would only need one play to get into the end zone.
Sitting at 19-0, the Chargers were in a great position. That Gordon TD was part of four straight possessions that ended it points for the offense. Momentum finally swung toward Green Bay as kick returner Tremon Smith brought back Badgely’s kickoff 36 yards. A couple of 1st-down were gained on a Davante Adams catch and a Jamaal Williams run. However, the Chargers defense held steady and forced a 54-yard FG attempt. Mason Crosby was successful in making it a two-score game at 19-3.
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However, that momentum was quickly erased. Mike Williams once again beat Jaire Alexander, only this time on a 46-yard jump ball downfield. Williams was lined up on the right side of the formation along with Keenan Allen. It was a great play design by Michael Gehlken in his first game as an offensive coordinator. Allen went underneath and drew a pair of defenders with him which left Williams covered 1-on-1 by Alexander. Williams used his 6’4″ frame to go up and shield the ball from the 5’10” Alexander.
Another Gordon carry for 1st-down was followed two plays later by a Hunter Henry catch for 9 yards to set up a goal-to-go situation. Henry was the primary passing weapon for the Chargers as he led the team with 10 targets. None of his teammates saw more than 4 targets in this contest.
After that Henry catch, the Chargers were held out of the end zone and Badgely came out for his 5th FG attempt. While he was successful, the Packers committed one of their 8 penalties in this game. Head Coach Anthony Lynn decided to be aggressive and put the offense back out on the field for a 4th-and-1 play. He put trust in his running game and Gordon proved his coach right by scoring his second TD of the contest.
Overall it was a great performance by the Chargers ground attack. The team combined for 156 yards on 38 rushing attempts, and it was one of the biggest factors in their 26-3 lead. This is especially impressive after the Chargers were held to under 40 total rushing yards during each of the previous four games.
Now a 3-score game in the 4th quarter, the Packers had their backs up against the wall. At this point, Aaron Rodgers operated in the no-huddle offense. Throughout this game, the entire team looked lethargic until this particular scoring drive. The Chargers pass-rush was held in check against this quick-paced offense as the pass-protection remained solid.
Much like Los Angeles’ success during the game, Green Bay utilized a series of quick passes to set up the score. The longest play from scrimmage on that drive was a 17-yard reception by Allen Lazard to set up the offense in FG range. Obviously, they had their sights set on the end zone. Aaron Rodgers used his trademark scrambling skills to find Jamaal Williams at the goal-line for the 10-yard reception TD. They stayed aggressive and Rodgers ran in a 2-point conversion. Suddenly we were back to a two-score game at 26-11.
At this point, the Packers’ main enemy was the clock. The Chargers needed one more drive to put this game out of reach. At this point, the Green Bay defense was noticeably tired. Preston Smith missed a tackle for loss then ended up as being 7-yard gain. Also, Kenny Clark was getting off his blocks but always seemed like he was a step too slow when doing so. Eventually, the Chargers got back into FG range. While Badgely ultimately missed, the drive was a success as it killed 4:11 of the final 6:21 of the game.
The Packers tried their best but their final possession ended in a turnover on downs. 26-11 ended up as the final score. The Chargers got a much-needed home win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Meanwhile, Green Bay was handed only their 2nd loss this season. After so many lucky breaks in the first half of 2019, the Packers faced an opponent that made no significant mistakes.
Moving forward, the Green Bay run defense needs to improve quite a lot. Offensively, they found success in the hurry-up style. When facing elite edge rushers, that may need to be employed even earlier in contests. The success they demonstrated in no-huddle during the 4th quarter makes me question why they didn’t turn to that much earlier in the game. Look for Matt LaFleur to utilize the no-huddle the next time they get in trouble with edge rushers.
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