The Los Angeles Chargers had a thrilling victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Week One of the NFL season. Austin Ekeler stood out above the rest, but he was not alone.
The much- anticipated 2019 NFL season is finally under way, as the Los Angeles Chargers were able to hold off the Indianapolis Colts for a thrilling and stressful victory in their home opener. It was great to see Keenan Allen, Phillip Rivers, Joey Bosa, Thomas Davis and Melvin Ingram all have stellar games. But this week’s game ball will be going to both Austin Ekeler and special teams ace Ty Long.
The big story of the day on the offensive side of the ball was how would the Chargers go about replacing star running back Melvin Gordon, and it became immediately clear Ekeler is the guy. He sure did reward the team with his stellar play, ending the day with 12 carries for 58 yards and the game-winning touchdown, as well as adding 96 yards and two touchdowns through the air. The team consistently looked his way via the short passing game, almost as if the team was going out of their way to give him all chances to show what he can do.
While fans have previously seen his explosiveness in the passing game, Ekeler was able to handle the role of being a workhorse back extremely well. He ran hard and aggressive all game long, consistently adding yards after first contact. He displayed good vision and the ability to cut on a dime. An underrated part of his game is his ability in pass protection, something that is becoming more vital every second Russell Okung is absent. When he wasn’t leaking out as a receiver, he showed his willingness to put his body on the line in order to protect is quarterback.
Head coach Anthony Lynn reminded everyone after the game that Ekeler is the strongest pound-for-pound player on the team and he sure showed that today.
?: CBS?: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app
— NFL (@NFL) September 8, 2019
Special teams play can often be a queasy topic for Chargers fans. That was the feeling yet again once the injury news of Michael Badgley became official, especially with such an unknown group of specialist players on the team. Aside from Desmond King’s muffed punt, special teams play was very solid on Sunday, including a blocked punt from rookie Drue Tranquill.
The big story here, though, is punter/kicker Ty Long, who answered any doubts about whether or not he belongs in the NFL. The role of punter was a big concern heading into training camp but Long was able to win the position battle and showed a strong leg. He averaged a solid 49 yards on his two punts, downing both inside the Colts’ 20 yard line. Field position is a key factor in the outcomes of games and Long certainly executed his role well. As he was stepping in for Badgley, he put out a perfect performance as placekicker, going three for three on extra points and hitting his only field goal try. Charger fans can sleep easy knowing they have a Swiss Army knife specialist should Badgley be out long-term.
Who else do you think deserved a game ball? Let us know in the comments below.