After Dustin Hopkins kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime to give the Chargers a 19-16 victory over the Broncos at SoFi Stadium, his teammates carried him into the air.
Hopkins kicked four field goals, the longest of which was a 39-yarder over eight minutes into overtime, despite playing with a hamstring injury that he felt “pop” on during an extra point attempt in the second quarter.
It seemed like someone was stabbing you with a knife before they even kicked you, Hopkins added. To which she responded, “All right. Let’s do it.’ I prayed the same thing. I told myself, “Lord, just be with me,” and, “Pain’s transient,” and then I decided to swing no matter how much pain I was in afterward.
Hopkins also made field goal attempts from 37, 31, and 35 yards, carrying the offensive load for the Chargers against a powerful Broncos defense. Despite completing passes for 238 yards on 57 tries, Justin Herbert was unable to score a touchdown (37 completions).
Rookie Ja’Sir Taylor’s botched punt, recovered by Rookie Deane Leonard, set up Hopkins’ game-winning field goal. Taylor shoved blocker P.J. after Montrell Washington called for a fair catch. As a result of his collision with the return man, the ball fell to the ground. As a result of Leonard’s pick-up, the Chargers now have possession of the ball at the Denver 28-yard line.
Dustin Hopkins warrior pic.twitter.com/1wG2W9IzWp
— Pardon My Take (@PardonMyTake) October 18, 2022
Taylor: “I chose to make a play rather than let him catch it.” “It’s a regular part of our routine.” He should have moved out of the way,” Taylor said when Locke’s lack of space for Washington was questioned. God forbid he should have
As a result of the fumble, the Chargers gained nine yards on a Herbert pass to Mike Williams, setting up Hopkins, who voluntarily put up his health and, possibly, the remainder of his season for his team. “I figured I was the greatest bet with nobody else around,” Hopkins explained. I can feel the pain rising. You’re only going to make things worse, so stop right now.
The Chargers’ recent success stemming from their special teams unit was a welcome change after years of struggling with their kicking game. Additionally, they triumphed after their defense overcame a slow start to completely beat Denver and quarterback Russell Wilson. Only two field goals were scored in the Broncos’ final nine drives.
Almost the course of the game, the Chargers ran 83 offensive plays to Denver’s 55, resulting in a time of possession advantage of over 10 minutes. After being down 13-10 at halftime, the Chargers tied the game on their first possession of the third quarter with a field goal drive that was capped by Hopkins’ 31-yarder.
After starting the game on the wrong foot and going behind 10-0, the Chargers came out strong in the second quarter and tied the score at 10-10. On 15 plays, they drove three third downs closer to scoring territory and eventually scored on a six-yard run by Austin Ekeler. Center Will Clapp and right guard Zion Johnson helped the rushing back over the goal line.
Ekeler, who had been scoreless through the first three weeks of the season, now has six touchdowns in his last three games. The Chargers responded with a 14-play, 69-yard drive that culminated in Hopkins’ 37-yard field goal, bringing the score to a tie.
Both of Denver’s cornerbacks, Damarri Mathis, were called for pass interference, helping that drive along. The Chargers gained 47 yards due to those penalties. After a Hopkins field goal with 53 seconds left in the half, Denver took over on its own 25-yard line.
With help from Wilson’s 47-yard pass to KJ Hamler, who outran defender J.C., the Broncos drove into field goal range. For Jackson’s long-term benefit. At the break, Denver had a 13-10 lead thanks to a field goal from 27 yards out by Brandon McManus.
Pass interference was called on Jackson, a 2021 Pro Bowler who has struggled in his debut season with the Chargers and resulted in a 21-yard gain for Denver in the first quarter. Michael Davis started the second half in place of Jackson, who had signed a five-year deal in March worth a maximum of $82.5 million (including a guaranteed $40 million).
The Chargers defense has been vulnerable all season long, and that trend continued today. Late in the first quarter, the Broncos scored their first touchdown after the defense allowed 76 yards on three straight snaps.
To prolong the first play, Wilson evaded pressure, allowing Jerry Jeudy to get free from Asante Samuel Jr.’s coverage. Then, when Samuel missed a tackle on Jeudy, Wilson found him wide-open for a 37-yard gain.
On the next play, rookie tight end Greg Dulcich scored from 39 yards out after the Chargers’ coverage completely collapsed. Third-round draft pick Dulcich was making his NFL debut. Halfway through the first quarter, McManus kicked a field goal from 51 yards out, giving the Broncos their first points of the game.
Khalil Mack, a defensive end for the Chargers, was crucial in stopping the Denver drive by sacking Wilson for a four-yard loss after forcing his way through Denver’s left tackle Calvin Anderson.
Mack recorded his sixth sack of the year on the play. He scored six times in seven games for Chicago in 2016 until a foot injury ended his season. Corey Linsley, a Pro Bowl center for the Chargers, has been sick since last week’s finale. Clapp took the reins instead.
Keenan Allen, a wide receiver, was also out as expected because of a hamstring ailment. Having missed the previous five games, Allen is expected to play for the Chargers this Sunday against the Seahawks at SoFi Stadium.