Broncos @ Chargers
Once again, a divisional matchup with the Chargers came down to the wire, with the Chargers coming out on top 19-16 without their top receiver Keenan Allen. This game saw neither team able to get much going on offense in the battle of young quarterbacks and turned quickly into a more defensive game than what may have been expected.
Drew Lock: 24/47, 264 yards, 2 INTs, 2 sacks | 5 carries, 15 yards, 1 TD
This game quickly turned into one that Drew Lock may want to forget, as he was unable to get much going for Denver on offense, with the exception being his touchdown dash where he got a little banged up but stayed in the game. It must not be forgotten, however, that one of those two interceptions which he threw was on the last play of the game with a Hail Mary which he tossed up from about midfield.
Melvin Gordon III: 16 carries, 79 yards
Royce Freeman: 2 carries, 16 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 16 yards
Melvin Gordon once again took advantage of the carries he was given, taking the ball to the outside often and breaking open for some longer runs. Though not involved in the passing game, Gordon continues to look good with that added threat to this Denver offense. With no Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman came in to spell Gordon once in a while, with the backfield mainly belonging to Gordon.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jerry Jeudy: 15 targets, 6 receptions, 61 yards
DaeSean Hamilton: 9 targets, 5 receptions, 77 yards
Noah Fant: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 65 yards
Tim Patrick: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 39 yards
The Broncos made it clear that they wanted to get Jerry Jeudy involved in this game on Sunday. However, after a few off-target passes and some drops, including one on a deep ball on the final drive that could have set Denver up to potentially go to overtime, we see this average stat line for the afternoon. The offense then turned into a catch and run offense with a big game for DaeSean Hamilton, with him showing off some bursts of speed, along with Lock also relying on Noah Fant for third-down conversion attempts. With these options taking more center stage, we saw more of a quiet game from Tim Patrick, though he took advantage of those few opportunities he got.
Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert: 21/33, 253 yards, 1 TD, 2 sacks | 4 carries, 26 yards
With the loss of Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry for this Los Angeles offense on Sunday, we saw a more quiet statistical output for Justin Herbert than what is accustomed to. However, Herbert got time and made it work with the pass-catching options he had, taking shots downfield while also settling for the dump-offs, including a swing pass for a touchdown to Austin Ekeler. This game impressed me in what he was able to do without those top weapons in the offense.
Austin Ekeler: 10 carries, 45 yards | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 23 yards, 1 TD
Kalen Ballage: 4 carries, 14 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 12 yards
Justin Jackson: 2 carries, 4 yards
The Broncos defense actually did an impressive job of quieting the Chargers’ run game, mainly Austin Ekeler, though he still shared that backfield work with Kalen Ballage. Though with the injuries to some Chargers’ pass catchers, we saw both continue to get work in the passing game, with Austin Ekler taking a dump-off from Herbert from 9-yards out into the endzone for a touchdown.
— QB List (@TheQBlist) December 27, 2020
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Mike Williams: 10 targets, 4 receptions, 54 yards
Stephen Anderson.: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 48 yards
Jalen Guyton: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 43 yards
Tyron Johnson: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 26 yards
With the injuries to the Chargers’ pass catchers, we saw Mike Williams as the most targeted receiver for this offense. However, these targets were more deep balls, though Herbert did miss him for two potential touchdowns down in the Redzone later in the game, coming out to a quieter game than what he maybe should have had. He did, however, come on the field to catch the game-winning interception from Drew Lock on the final Hail Mary of the game.
— QB List (@TheQBlist) December 28, 2020
His return to the offense saw a much quieter game for Tyron Johnson, with Jalen Guyton still seeing some work on deeper routes as well. Finally, with no Hunter Henry, Justin Herbert did not abandon giving work to the tight end position, with Stephen Anderson having a nice game.
— Callen Elslager (@callen_elslager on Twitter and Reddit)