It is fair to say that the Los Angeles Chargers Week 3 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings was a battle where both coaches tried to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. This was a wild shootout with multiple odd decisions/play-calls and straight-up lucky plays. In the end, the Chargers emerged the victor 28-24. Mishaps aside, the Chargers still have some things to be proud of in this win – namely two of their offensive stars, Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen, having career days.
Chargers Week 3 Shootout Yields Career Days for Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen
Justin Herbert’s Big Day
This was a game where the running backs were essentially useless. Austin Ekeler was still out with an ankle sprain, and Joshua Kelley is proving that he is not an RB1 at this point after taking 11 carries for only 12 yards.
Fortunately, that didn’t matter, because both pass defenses were also useless in this game. Herbert went on a tear, going 40-for-47 with 405 yards and three touchdowns. This was one of those games with a good balance of short checkdowns that still moved the chains, and of pushing the ball deeper. The 40 completions are a career-high for Herbert, as are the 405 yards. In terms of pure performance, it definitely ranks among the best games of his career so far; this was one of those games where he just couldn’t miss. And even the one time that he did underthrow a pass that should have been intercepted, he got bailed out by a lucky tip which then got nabbed by Josh Palmer for the touchdown. In other words, the one time he did make a mistake, it still turned into a touchdown for him.
Keenan Allen Still Has It
The main target for Herbert on the day was Keenan Allen. This is usually the case anyway – when it comes to simple move-the-chains plays, he’s been the most reliable receiver Herbert has had. But Herbert was looking to him even more than usual, including for bigger plays. Allen pulled in 18 catches for 215 yards, both of which are career highs – the 18 catches are also a franchise record. His previous highs were 16 catches and 192 yards. There had been some thought that he might start beginning to decline with age, but this game is proof otherwise.
Allen may not have caught any receiving touchdowns, but he did still score anyway – he threw one instead. He’d attempted a pass twice before in previous years, but never completed one; however, he made this one count. Taking a backward flip from Herbert, he threw straight down the sideline – where Mike Williams was wide open, and raced easily into the end zone for a 49-yard touchdown.
KEENAN ALLEN TOUCHDOWN PASS TO MIKE WILLIAMS!
— NFL (@NFL) September 24, 2023
Allen’s had a much longer career than Herbert – he is entering his 11th season – but this has to be among the best performances of his career as well, if not the best. It’s quite a sight to see for a receiver who is 31 and has frequently been banged up throughout his career – but he clearly still has a lot left in the tank.
This is less notable, but Donald Parham still had a career day of sorts as well. He only had two catches for four yards, but they both went for touchdowns, making this the first multi-touchdown game of his career. This is definitely a case of a small role with a big impact.
With regards to the Chargers as a whole – they may have won, but they still got pretty lucky. The offense in of itself was fortunate that the Vikings pass defense was porous and that they were able to flourish without any running game; they’ll be hoping Ekeler comes back soon. The defense did manage to make a couple of late goal-line stands, but on the whole, it was still another rough game for them. This game doesn’t prove much of anything for the team – except the prowess of the offense. Barring more late defensive stands, the team will probably have to depend on Herbert and the rest of the offense to bail them out going forward.
Main Photo: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports