November 23, 2017

By Lauren A. Jones

Contributing Writer


Bills head coach Sean McDermott announced earlier in the week that rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman would start in lieu of a benched Tyrod Taylor and the Chargers defense took it personally. On Sunday, Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half, as the Chargers came away with a resounding 54-24 win over the Bills.

“It’s nice to score over 24 points finally in a game,” said Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. “You see all of our opponents’ scores over the last nine weeks and us only having three wins, that was the part offensively that we felt we were letting our defense down.”

The Chargers returned home after nearly a month on the road to face the Bills at StubHub Center. The Chargers defense took full advantage of the Bills’ young quarterback’s first career start in the NFL. 

“Me and Mel[vin Ingram] knew that if we were going to able to get in his face and get pressure, he was going to make some bad decisions with the football,” said defensive end Joey Bosa. “I mean, we didn’t expect five,” Bosa added laughingly.

Linebacker Korey Toomer’s 59-yard interception return for a touchdown on the first drive of the game, set the tone, as the Chargers took an early 7-0 lead. On the Bills next drive, cornerback Casey Hayward picked off Peterman. Just three pass attempts later, Peterman was nailed by Bosa and safety Tre Boston with the third interception all in the first quarter.

“You have to cut him a break, he’s a rookie and he was called out of the blue,” added Bosa on Peterman. “It’s not like we were taking it easy on him.”

It continued through the second quarter. The Chargers scored 31 points off turnovers, more than they had in their first nine games of the season combined (28). The five picks set a franchise record for interceptions in a single half.

By halftime, McDermott’s choice to start Peterman over Taylor, who had thrown just three interceptions on the entire season, proved to be a questionable one at best. Peterman finished 6 for 14 for 66 yards with five interceptions before heading to the bench.

“I felt like this was the right situation for Nate to come in and play,” McDermott said, after the game. “I don’t regret my decision, I regret the result.”

By the time Taylor took the field, the Chargers momentum could not be stopped.

“That’s when you really see the identity of the team; when you’re up and you still keep playing like you’re down,” said Chargers defensive end, Melvin Ingram. 

The one-two punch of Bosa and Ingram made their presence felt when Bosa sacked Taylor who fumbled and Ingram scooped the ball to score a 39-yard touchdown. Things were clicking on both sides of the ball. Rivers and his targets were connecting offensively as well. Keenan Allen ended with 12 catches on 13 targets for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

“This is the best I’ve felt all season,” Allen remarked after the game. 

Allen recorded his first score since week one, aiding the Chargers 47-10 lead at the end of three quarters. Coach Anthony Lynn elected to rest Rivers and Allen in garbage time. Rivers finished with 21 of 33 for 250 yards and two touchdowns.

Los Angeles backup quarterback, Kellen Clemens came in and led a scoring drive with a handoff to Austin Ekeler. The rookie running back out of Western State, who scored two touchdowns last week against the Jaguars, sped through the Bills defense straight to the end zone for a 21-yard run.

“That’s what he’s shown since preseason, he keeps making plays,” said Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn. “When Austin gets in there and does something like that, it doesn’t surprise me at all.”

The Chargers have little time to celebrate the route of the Bills as the team will travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday Nov. 23 at 1:30 p.m. PT. 

For many players, including Ekeler,  it will be their first time playing in a Thanksgiving Day game.

“I always used to watch the Thanksgiving games with my family because in Division ll [college football], you only have 11 games so we’re done with our season by now,” said Ekeler. “I finally get to play in the game on Thanksgiving, it’s a special time for me and I’m really excited.”

A win over the Cowboys would mean the Chargers are still in the playoff hunt to secure the final wild-card spot in the AFC. 

“Over the years, we tend to function better in these situations and hopefully it will be the same this year,” said Rivers.

Category: Sports