Chargers dominate Redskins for 4th win in a row
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Although the Los Angeles Chargers’ offense is constantly running over its opponents these days, Philip Rivers wasn’t sure how he ended up as a lead blocker for receiver Travis Benjamin on a 22-yard reverse run .
“Gracious, I’ve never been this far down the field in my life since high school,” Rivers thought to himself as he looked for somebody to hit — and his coaches cringed.
But just about everything the Chargers do is working out well lately. After a 30-13 rout of the Redskins on Sunday for their fourth straight victory, they’re finding themselves in prime position to compete for a playoff spot.
After their 0-4 start, that’s something that seemed even more unlikely than Rivers becoming a blocker.
Rivers passed for 319 yards and two touchdowns, and the Chargers continued their ferocious playoff push with their seventh win in nine games.
Tyrell Williams caught a 75-yard touchdown pass and Hunter Henry had another scoring grab for the Chargers (7-6), who have been largely outstanding ever since that rocky start to their relocation season. This one wasn’t in much doubt for the Chargers as they took a 24-point lead and racked up 429 yards of offense midway through the third quarter.
“It’s exactly where we want to be,” said Williams, who had four catches for 132 yards. “We hold our own destiny.”
While outscoring their opponents 131-53 during their winning streak, the Chargers also moved above .500 for the first time since September 2015 with a dominant offensive performance against Washington.
With their fourth straight home victory, the Chargers stayed atop the AFC West alongside the Chiefs (7-6), their opponents Saturday in Kansas City.
“I want players to always know what they’re playing for, and right now, we’re playing for our division,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said.
Kirk Cousins hit Vernon Davis with an early TD pass for the Redskins (5-8), who have lost two straight and six of eight. Washington was officially eliminated from playoff contention with three games to go, and this effort rankled several veterans.
“There’s no excuse why we’re playing like this, because we’ve played good in the past,” Washington safety D.J. Swearinger said. “You’ve got to prepare for when you step out on the field Sunday, or you’re going to get embarrassed. We got embarrassed today, so guys didn’t prepare. Guys didn’t take it in. … We’ve definitely taken steps back (on defense). We had 30 put on us today. Dallas put (38) on us last week. We’ve taken major steps back.”
Although Bashaud Breeland returned an interception of Kellen Clemens’ pass 96 yards for a touchdown with 2:36 to play, Washington’s defense had few answers.
“I’m at a loss for words, quite honestly,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “I never thought we’d get beat like this two weeks in a row.”
Melvin Gordon rushed for a third-quarter score before several Los Angeles regulars took most of the fourth quarter off, banking rest for Saturday.
They earned it: Rivers’ offense played with confidence and flair, executing reverses and flea-flickers while thoroughly entertaining a crowd with distinctly fewer fans of the opposition than in the Chargers’ first few games at StubHub Center.
Los Angeles jumped to a 13-0 lead while scoring on its first three drives and getting a first-quarter interception by Kyle Emanuel, but Washington kept it close by forcing two field goals.
But on the Chargers’ first snap after Davis’ TD catch, Rivers hit Williams deep downfield for an untouched, 75-yard score.
Los Angeles had a 23-6 lead when it drove 81 yards in the final 1:25 before halftime. The Chargers only missed out on even more points because Austin Ekeler was tackled on a 33-yard run at the Washington 4 as time ran out. Lynn blamed Ekeler for risking a run to end zone despite knowing he needed to get down.
Keenan Allen had six catches for 111 yards in his quietest performance during the Bolts’ four-game winning streak. He still set single-season career highs for receptions and yards during the first half for Los Angeles.
Rivers passed for 256 yards in the first half. He also moved ahead of Warren Moon for ninth place in NFL history in career yards passing. During the four-game winning streak, Rivers has passed for 1,348 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions.
Redskins: Kick returner Byron Marshall’s leg buckled underneath him while he moved to field a kickoff in the first quarter. He injured his hamstring and didn’t return. … Key LB Zach Brown sprained his toe in the second half and left in a walking boot. He blamed the StubHub Center turf: “That field is crap. It’s made for soccer.” … LB Chris Carter broke his leg in the second half.
Chargers: Left tackle Russell Okung went down heavily in the first quarter and limped off the field with a knee injury. He returned later in the first half, however.
Redskins: Host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Chargers: Travel to Kansas City on short rest for a first-place showdown with the Chiefs on Saturday.