Updated: Sep 12, 2019
In a surprisingly entertaining game, the LA Chargers prevailed over Indianapolis Sunday evening by a score of 30-24. Though the Indianapolis Colts rallied to force overtime, their recovery from Andrew Luck's shocking retirement has not yet materialized. The Chargers, seen as legitimate Superbowl contenders this season, came into the game as heavy favorites and finished victorious.
LA struck first and led 17-6 at the half, but Indianapolis stayed within striking distance and sent the two teams to overtime with an 8-0 fourth quarter scoring run. While this game had to have a losing team (not every game can end as diplomatically as the Lions-Cardinals), both teams will walk away with reasons to be optimistic.
Beyond the victory notched in the win column, LA has got to be happy with the way their team looked on Sunday. The perpetually overlooked QB Phillip Rivers lead his team with poise as he put up over 300 passing yards and 3 TDs. Top WR Keenan Allen also looked like his regular productive self, recording over 100 yards and a TD.
Do the Charger Need Melvin Gordon?
The biggest question mark for the Charger offense – the absence of star RB Melvin Gordon as his contract holdout drags on – was erased as Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson gashed the Colts’ defense all game. Ekeler and Jackson combined for over 100 yards on the ground and 1 rushing TD while Ekeler added 6 catches for 96 yards and 2 TDs. That dominant performance brought elation to Ekeler fantasy owners and relief to the Chargers’ front office, who now know their team can succeed in the running game without paying the premium for Gordon’s services. With his leverage on the Chargers virtually wiped out, expect Melvin Gordon to continue to sit out until he finds a trade suitor willing to take a big cap hit for him.
The Colts are Competitive without Luck.
Despite ultimately losing, the Colts showed that they don’t need Luck to compete with good teams – but they still need work. Jacoby Brissett is certainly a step down from Andrew Luck, but he looked like a serviceable NFL QB against a stout Charger defense. The former backup completed over 77% of his passes for 190 yards and 2 TDs, both to star WR T.Y. Hilton. Breakout RB Marlon Mack had himself a day with 174 yards on the ground, 63 of which came on a career long TD dash.
Even so, the Colts showed some definite flaws. The O-line had Brissett scrambling on multiple occasions and gave up a pair of sacks. Unless they want to send another battered QB to an early retirement, the Colts need to protect the passer. Brissett also needs to improve his play and avoid miscues like his first half fumbled snap. Additionally, all-time great kicker Adam Vinatieri needs to show why he’s a future hall of famer. He didn’t on Sunday as he made just one of three field goal attempts and missed an extra point. Especially in an OT loss, missing out on 7 points worth of missed kicks is unacceptable for a team with playoff aspirations.
At the end of the day, both the Chargers and Colts proved that they are capable of competing at a high level even without some big name stars.