(East Los Angles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: On this beautifully sunny and late autumn afternoon of 2022, Los Angeles was a calm and pleasing place to be for all residents living in our Southern California basin. And in a slight contrast, it was a cool 64° degrees at the 1:25 pm “kick-off” time for the Chargers vs. the Tennessee Titans as they prepared to clash on the CBS network. To the thousands of Bolts’ fans who made their way into SoFi Stadium for this crucial Week 15 game with the Titans, the weather was certainly not a factor at all. Rather, their collective game-day fan moods and expectations for a win were extremely high and keenly evident.
[Game Preview]: The Chargers entered this match-up with a (7-6) overall record, as they took on the Titans with the same record, (7-6) in a huge game with playoff implications on the line for both teams. The last phase of the season started with this Week 15 battle for a coveted AFC “Wild Card” playoff bid.
Let’s briefly take a look at the all-important injury list for the Bolts as they prepared for this encounter. On offense, inactive and prominent players that concerned Head Coach, Brandon Staley and his staff were: Derwin James, Jr., still recovering from a quadricep injury, and running back, Sony Michel.
But, in the starting line-up and all playing healthy at this point in the season, were QB/Justin Herbert, RB/Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, WRs, Keenan Allen, Michael Williams, DeAndre Carter, and Joshua Palmer. Add on a few more defensive players like Khalil Mack, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Morgan Fox, DrueTranquill, Kicker, Cameron Dicker, and the Chargers looked like they were headed in the right direction, and in contention for that “Wild Card” playoff spot.
[1st Qtr]: After holding the Titans to a punt on their first drive, the Chargers scored at the (4:25) mark, on a drive of 68 yards in 14 plays using a big chunk of (8:11) of game clock. Key set-up plays were passes to #13/Keenan Allen and runs by #25/Joshua Kelley. Kelley got the call on a 1 yard touchdown blast straight up the middle, and after a successful PAT by #15/Cameron Dicker, they took the first lead of the game, (7-0).
[2nd Qtr]: The Titans managed to get on the board with a well-executed drive of 63 yards in 6 plays, while using up (2:15) of clock. At the (11:00) minute mark, RB/#22/Derrick Henry carried it in from the 4 yard line to tie the score at (7-7). The Bolts failed to score as time wound down due to #10/Justin Herbert’s first interception of the game with just (00:30) seconds remaining in the period. It wasn’t the conventional-looking type, as the overthrown pass was deliberately and smartly batted back into the end zone, by #21/Roger McCreary, as he somehow found his teammate, #28/Joshua Kalu, there to capture it for credit of the interception and thus terminating the Chargers scoring threat. The Titans were agreeable to QB/#17/Ryan Tannehill taking a knee to end the half with the score tied at (7-7).
[HALFTIME]: Chargers 7 Titans 7
[3rd Qtr]: The period was characterized by the back & forth type of play due to the tenacious defensive units on both squads. In fact, Herbert was picked off for the second time in the game with (5:23) left in the period on a pass that was intended for Williams over the middle. But there was no damage done by the Titans on their subsequent possessions.
[4th Qtr]: At the (10:28) mark, the Bolts’ All-Purpose RB & Receiver, #30/Austin Ekeler, aka for our accounts as Mr. Reliable/Mr. Clutch/Mr. Muscle (take your pick), scored on a 3 yard blast, moving the score to (14-7) in their favor. The Titans kept on the ground with Henry playing like a battering ram against the Chargers front four and linebacking corps. They simply probed the defense and QB/Tannehill was led the drive with a steady Run-Pass-Option attack that earned the Titans valuable first downs. Defense was still the star of the show up to this point. And so, with just (00:51) seconds left in the game, Tannehill was successful in a 1 yard QB sneak that tied the game at (14-14) with the PAT added on.
On the ensuing “kick-off” the Chargers were on display for their under (1:00) minute drill. Up first was the Special Teams Unit, and credit #1/DeAndre Carter for a 17 yard return to their 23 yard line. Herbert then found #81/Mike Williams downfield for a 16 yard pick-up. Next, he found #7/Gerald Everett for a short gainer to the Bolts 45. And here is where the game differentiating play occurred. Herbert scrambled out-of-the-pocket easily to his right and connected for a huge 35 yard pass to Williams down to the Titans 20 yard line. Herbert then spiked the ball to stop the clock with (00:14) seconds left.
And, with just (00:08) left to play, Coach Staley brought in his confident place kicker, #15/Dicker to attempt a 43 yard field goal. With the entire Stadium up on its feet and screaming for successful make, he did not disappoint his team nor the fans, as he calmly kicked it straight through the uprights for the narrow win.
[FINAL SCORE]: Chargers 17 Tennessee Titans 14
[NEXT UP]: At Indianapolis Colts, Monday Night Football (MNF), Dec. 26th. “Kick-off” is set for 5:15 pm| PST. To watch, go to: ESPN • ESPN Deportes. To listen, tune in to ALT 98.7 FM • QUE BUENA 105.5/94.3 FM.