The health and safety protocol took its piece of flesh from the Los Angeles Chargers, and the Houston Texans finished the job with a 41-29 win. The Chargers are all but guaranteed to be out of the race to win the AFC West, and now will battle for playoff seeding.
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Davis Mills has escaped evaluation all season long because of the rebuilding situation around him, but he has put together a string of impressive outings in the second half of the season. Mills was efficient with the football and avoided turnovers, and his two deep passes before the half were the turning point in the game.
Davis Mills | Week 16
|Air Yards %||53%|
Houston took advantage of Los Angeles’ horrid run defense to the tune of 189 yards and two touchdowns. Rex Burkhead cut through poor tackling and run fits for 149 yards on his 22 tries, holding the Chargers at bay in their comeback attempt.
Rex Burkhead | Week 16
|Yards Per Attempt||6.8|
|1st Down/Touchdown Rate||36%|
|Yards After Contact %||70%|
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Brandin Cooks has been the first and second option for Houston all season long, but the offense cobbled together just enough production without him to get away with the upset win. Brevin Jordan came up with timely catches on play-actions, and Phillip Dorsett and Chris Conley won their one-on-ones for explosive gains.
Houston’s offensive line had little to concern itself with on passing downs without the threat of Joey Bosa and allowed only three pressures all game. None of the Chargers were able to win as pass rushers or get their hands on Davis Mills in the pocket, which created the opportunity to be efficient through the air.
Neville Hewitt and Garret Wallow went through Sunday without making much of an impact on the result of the football game. The two LBs registered just one run stop, no pressure as blitzers and allowed 200 yards in coverage on checkdowns and throws underneath.
Jonathan Owens’ fourth-quarter pick-6 sealed the game for Houston, and the DB corps did well to keep all Chargers WRs in front of them. Desmond King allowed the high-water mark in yardage with 50, but no defensive back allowed more than 1.5 yards per coverage snap, a signal that there weren’t any exploited mismatches or coverage busts.
Justin Herbert played one of his worst games of the season prior to the fourth quarter, unable to push the ball downfield in ways he had for the past six weeks. Houston was well prepared to force checkdowns and punish him for pressing and challenging good coverage, ending the game with two interceptions.
Justin Herbert | Week 16
|Average Depth of Target||7.5|
|Passes Short of Sticks||57%|
Missing Austin Ekeler took some of the punch out of the Chargers offense, which has relied more on downhill running and deep play-action shots in the second half of the season. Justin Jackson scored his first TD since 2018, a great moment and an acknowledgement of his health and production issues.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The alarm bells had to be going off for Joe Lombardi when Herbert couldn’t find Keenan Allen open in the intermediate areas of the field, squeezing the ball down to Jackson on checkdowns. Allen was targeted just five times against a secondary that has struggled to stop anybody all season long.
Rashawn Slater has looked like a franchise tackle from the time he walked in the door. He went through Sunday’s action without allowing a single pressure. The rest of the Chargers combined to concede four pressures and two sacks.
Rashawn Slater | Week 16
|Pass Protection Snaps||40|
|Pass Blocking Efficiency||100.0|
The Chargers desperately needed their front four to make plays in the backfield to stop the bleeding in the run game, but not a single defensive lineman registered a tackle for loss or no gain. The struggles carried over to passing down, where Jerry Tillery’s single sack was the only pressure generated from a first-level defender.
Drue Tranquill was the only Chargers defender in the box to leave an impact on the game. The linebacker allowed no yard as a coverage defender, tallied three defensive stops in the run game and all five of his tackles were solo.
In spite of Asante Samuel Jr.’s size, the rookie corner held up well outside in the absence of Michael Davis. Samuel allowed just one reception (though for 36 yards) on his three targets and played with the fluidity and soundness he showed throughout his tape as the No. 1 CB at Florida State.