Five takeaways from Chargers’ playoff-clinching win over Colts

The Chargers clinched the franchise’s first playoff look in 4 years Monday with a 20-3 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

They improved to 9-6 and are sixth within the AFC, trailing Baltimore (10-5) by one sport. With two regular-season weeks remaining, the Chargers nonetheless might cross the Ravens for the convention’s high wild-card spot.

Listed below are some takeaways from the Chargers’ third consecutive victory:

Powerful highway referred to as for toughness

Coach Brandon Staley improved to 18-14 general whereas reaching the playoffs in his second season as head coach.

He credited his staff’s fortitude in overcoming a sequence of great accidents that started earlier than the season began and rallying late after sitting at 6-6 simply three weeks in the past.

Among the many biggest-named Chargers who’ve missed notable time in 2022: Joey Bosa, J.C. Jackson, Derwin James Jr., Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Rashawn Slater.

“We would not be here today if it were not for the toughness of our football team, the makeup of our football team,” Staley mentioned. “For far too long people have talked about the talent of this team and the organization, and that’s ultimately not what gets you where you want to go.

“You have to prove your toughness, and that’s what we’ve proven so far this year. … We have a tough enough football team — mentally and physically — to be where we are right now, which is in the tournament.

“But our season is not over. We have two more games against really, really good teams [Rams and Denver Broncos], and we need to search to play our best football so we can not only get into the playoffs but make a run to a Super Bowl championship.”

Inflow of grit

Throughout the latest offseason, the Chargers’ additions included Khalil Mack, Kyle Van Noy, Morgan Fox, Bryce Callahan, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Gerald Everett and Troy Reeder.

Staley talked about every of these gamers whereas explaining that the Chargers “onboarded” a number of toughness so as to add to the gamers who have been already right here when he was employed in January 2021.

“That’s what you have to do,” he mentioned. “You can’t just instill toughness in someone. They either have it or they don’t. So what you have to do is you have to join up with the right guys.”

Third-year quarterback Justin Herbert will now play within the postseason for the primary time. He credited the entrance workplace — led by basic supervisor Tom Telesco — for placing the staff on this place.

“I think the Chargers organization has done such a great job these past couple of years,” he mentioned. “It didn’t go our way the past two years. But they stuck with it, and they’re doing everything they can. So it’s an honor to be a part of it.”

Placing the ‘D’ in dominant

The Chargers’ protection stood out for the third consecutive sport, holding the Colts to only a subject aim. It was the primary time since Nov. 11, 2018, that the Chargers didn’t enable at the very least one landing.

“It was a complete performance,” Staley mentioned. “It was a dominant performance and certainly one that we expect. I’m really proud of the guys because they’ve come together and made it happen.”

Over the previous 4 weeks, the Chargers have restricted their opponents to 9 of 42 on third down, one of the best mark within the NFL throughout that point.

They’ve additionally shut out the opposition in 4 straight first quarters, the franchise’s longest such streak since 2011.

“[We] just have a unit that’s really connected out there,” Staley mentioned, “a team that’s playing extremely hard, playing extremely disciplined.”

Out of rhythm

Offensively, the Chargers weren’t at their greatest. They scored solely two touchdowns towards a staff that had surrendered 93 factors in its earlier two video games.

Herbert had two turnovers — an interception and a fumble — and was sacked 4 extra occasions. The Chargers did high 100 dashing yards for simply the third time this season however wanted 32 makes an attempt to get to 101.

They failed to attain a third-quarter landing for the tenth consecutive sport and had 5 sequence that lasted solely three performs.

The Chargers’ third-quarter woes have been summed up on one play on their opening possession. Herbert related with Donald Parham Jr. for a 30-yard acquire that put the ball on the Colts’ 31.

However the play was worn out due to a holding penalty on proper sort out Trey Pipkins III.

“I think that we’re still trying to find that rhythm,” Staley mentioned.

Allen caught 11 passes for 104 yards, however Staley lamented Williams ending with solely 4 catches.

Herbert had simply his fourth profession sport with no landing cross. However two of these contests have now come back-to-back. His most up-to-date scoring cross went to Williams within the second quarter towards Miami on Dec. 11.

In his personal phrases

“At the end of the day, it’s going to take defense to win championships. Our defense playing like that — and if we get Joey [Bosa] back — my goodness. I’m looking forward to watching these boys fly around.” — working again Austin Ekeler on what’s occurring on the opposite aspect of the ball.