During the Los Angeles Chargers’ 45-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, fans were witnesses to an historical performance and may not have even realized it.
Yes, the team piled up the points and lit up the scoreboard on a frequent basis against the hapless Jaguars and yes, Philip Rivers had a terrific day on his birthday, so those were the things that grabbed the headlines.
But Austin Ekeler added on to his phenomenal season by doing something we haven’t seen in quite some time. To be precise, the last time a player for the Chargers rushed for 100 yards and had 100 yards receiving in the same game was 12,495 days, or a little more than 34 years.
Ekeler joined Lionel James as the only two players to ever reach this feat for the team. Here, we’ll look back on that day for James, which was on September 22, 1985.
Like Ekeler, James was a diminutive back and in fact, was even smaller. He was just 5-foot-6 and weighed in around 170 pounds during his playing days. Unlike Ekeler, he was drafted. The Chargers used their fifth-round pick in the 1984 draft to select James out of Auburn.
He spent his entire five-year career with the Bolts and was named to the team’s 40th Anniversary Team in the year 2000. But that September day in Cincinnati at old Riverfront Stadium was his shining moment.
James carried the ball 12 times for 127 yards in the game and caught five passes for 118 yards. His second-half touchdowns, a 56-yard run in the third quarter and a 60-yard reception in the fourth quarter were the biggest plays in the team’s win, a 44-41 decision over the Bengals.
James had a magnificent 1985 season and actually led the AFC in receptions that year. He set records for all-purpose yards and receiving yards for a running back as well.
Looking at what Ekeler did against Jacksonville, let’s compare the numbers.
Lionel James (9/22/85): 12 carries, 127 yards (10.5 yards per carry), 1 TD, 5 receptions, 118 yards, 1 TD
Austin Ekeler (12/9/19): 8 carries, 101 yards (12.6 yards per carry), 4 receptions, 112 yards, 1 TD
Where does your fandom rank?
See 2019 Rankings
Both players had great games and the fact that these are the only two games like this in team history shows how incredible Ekeler’s performance was. Forget just being the offensive MVP, Ekeler is the team’s overall MVP this season.