Battling a bad kicking leg, Los Angeles Chargers’ Dustin Hopkins knocked through a 39-yard field goal in overtime to defeat the Denver Broncos, 19-16, on Monday night to improve to 4-2 on the season.
It was a battle of field goals in the second half, with the only two touchdowns of the game coming in the first half. But Hopkins was dealing with a leg ailment throughout that made him fall in pain each time he kicked.
But the only reason he had the opportunity was because of a muffed punt by the Broncos that set up the 39-yard winner.
After the game, Hopkins said the first extra point was what caused him to feel pain.
“It was weird. I felt good pre-game and everything. But that first extra point I felt a pop, and it kinda went downhill from there.”
Still, without his overtime winner and a 35-yarder at 3:58 left in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime, the Chargers are never in this position to get to 4-2.
It was a very sloppy game, though, in terms of penalties for both teams. The Broncos had 10 penalties called on them for a total 151 yards, while the Chargers had nine for 89 yards.
For example, Broncos cornerback Damarri Mathis, making his first career start, had four pass interference calls on him alone.
Either way, neither offense could really capitalize on these opportunities that eventually led to field goal.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (37-for-57, 238 yards, one interception) was pressured just as much as Russell Wilson (15-for-28, 188 yards, one touchdown), as he didn’t throw a touchdown pass in a game for the first time since 2020. In fact, this is only the second game he hasn’t thrown one in 38 appearances in the NFL.
But Herbert will certainly take a win over a divisional foe, while Wilson and the Broncos fall to 2-4 on the season and remain in last place in the AFC West.
The first touchdown of the game came on a busted coverage for the Chargers, as Wilson found rookie tight end Greg Dulcich untouched for a 39-yard touchdown, his first career score, to make it a 10-0 game in the first quarter.
But the Chargers started to fight back. Austin Ekeler punched his way into the end zone with a six-yard carry, fighting through multiple Broncos to get into the colored turf. Then, Hopkins buried a 37-yard field goal to tie the game at 10 apiece.
Wilson, though, wasn’t going out of the half without the lead. Armed with under a minute to play, he found K.J. Hamler for 47 yards downfield to set up Denver for some points. It wasn’t a touchdown, though they had an opportunity with first-and-goal at the Chargers’ nine-yard line. Brandon McManus kicked a 27-yard field goal to go into the half leading 13-10.
But the Chargers did just enough in the second half to give themselves a chance, and finally made a Broncos blunder work in their favor in the end.
The Chargers will regroup and hope their offense can be more electric against the Seattle Seahawks at home next Sunday.
The Broncos, hoping to snap a three-game losing streak, will head back to Denver to face the surging New York Jets.
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