The Buffalo Bills handed the Los Angeles Chargers their first defeat by more than one possession on Sunday, overcoming a sloppy fourth quarter to beat the Chargers 27-17. Sure, the deficit only remained two scores thanks to some ghastly clock management by Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, but the fact remains that Buffalo is the only team to defeat the Chargers by more than eight points since the Kansas City Chiefs did it in Week 17 last year.
The Chargers gained 367 total yards, but the Bills were able to keep their explosive offense out of the end zone for much of the day. How did our Chargers to watch perform? It was a mixed bag, but it was mostly good in spite of the end result.
QB Justin Herbert
The Bills were able to confuse the rookie just enough to keep him off his game a bit, as Herbert really struggled to keep any sort of consistency throughout the afternoon. He started poorly, completing just 15-of-27 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Herbert finished with 316 yards, that lone touchdown, and an interception. His final completion of the day was a Hail Mary pass, the second such completion that the Bills have allowed in the last two games that counted (the third had literally occurred one play before, but Chargers receiver Jalen Guyton was called for offensive pass interference, nullifying the play). Without that 55-yard bomb, Herbert’s numbers looked pedestrian, which is how he looked for much of the day.
WR Keenan Allen
If Herbert seemed just a bit off throughout this game, it was the throws to Allen that really showed it. Aside from the one touchdown pass on the day, a dart that hit Allen in a perfect spot with linebacker Tremaine Edmunds draped all over him, Herbert and Allen seemed a step out of time with each other for much of the afternoon. Allen was targeted ten times, but he only hauled in four catches for 40 yards and that touchdown. The Bills mixed their coverages and used multiple defenders on Allen rather than having Tre’Davious White shadow him, and the strategy worked. Taron Johnson in particular did a nice job working against Allen in the slot, breaking up two passes on the day.
WR Mike Williams
It was Big Mike who saw Tre’Davious White for much of the day, as the Bills seemed to go the Bill Belichick route of using the team’s best corner to take out the second option while bracketing the top dog on offense. As a result, Williams had a pretty quiet day, making three catches for 26 yards on five targets. One of those catches converted a fourth down for the Chargers, but it was a good sign that the Bills were able to shut down a legitimate deep threat in this one.
DE Joey Bosa
Thinking of the perfect cliché to explain just how dominant Bosa was on Sunday is impossible, so I’ll just say that he was a one-man bull wrecking an entire outlet mall filled with fine China. Seriously...no matter what Buffalo did, Bosa found a way to stop it. He had six tackles-for-loss, five quarterback hits, three sacks, a pass breakup, eight total tackles, a fumble recovery, and a partridge in a pear tree. Bosa was entirely unblockable all afternoon. He’s a great player, but it almost appeared as if the Bills decided that rather than try to neutralize him, they were going to deal with him negatively impacting their game plan. It’s not the strategy I’d have chosen, especially with Melvin Ingram out of the game, but the Bills won in spite of Bosa’s outstanding performance.
DE Melvin Ingram
RB Austin Ekeler
With Ingram declared out after the original article ran, we’ll talk about our sixth man instead. It was a mystery whether Ekeler would play at all, but once he was activated off of injured reserve, the question became whether he could be effective after missing the last six games with a hamstring injury. Ekeler was quite effective, as he was the leading receiver, catching 11 passes for 85 yards on 16 targets. All of those totals were game highs. Ekeler added 14 carries for 44 yards while playing on 60 of the Chargers’ 83 offensive snaps.