Austin Ekeler’s 2 TDs lead Chargers to Rams in Battle of LA

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler had one thing in mind on the longest touchdown run of his career, a 72-yard burst that set the tone for his team’s decisive win. team, 31-10, over crosstown rivals the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in the battle for LA

Don’t get caught.

“Bravo to the O line because it was perfectly blocked,” Ekeler said. “We were in power. It all got kicked out and I was able to get around the corner. I got caught earlier in the year, and so the only thing that went through my mind was, ‘Okay, speed , speed, speed. Don’t get caught,” and I was able to get in there.”

Ekeler finished with 122 rushing yards on just 10 carries and another touchdown on the day, this one at 10 yards.

The Western Colorado product now has a league-leading 18 total touchdowns this year. He also finished with four receptions for 39 receiving yards, passing Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson for the most receptions by a running back in a single season in franchise history with 103.

Receiver Mike Williams joined Ekeler with another stunning offensive performance for the Bolts, finishing with seven receptions for 94 yards on 10 targets, including an impressive one-handed grab for 18 yards along the sideline late in the game. the second trimester.

“As a professional coach, you witness a lot of things,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “You can see a lot of specials. But there are some that are just more special than the others, and this was definitely one of them.”

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert completed 21 of 28 passes for 212 passing yards and two scores, with no interceptions. Herbert was not sacked, posting a passer rating of 119.9.

The Oregon product now has 100 total career touchdowns, which ties him with Hall of Famer Dan Marino for most of any player in their first three NFL seasons.

The Bolts improved to 10-6 with the win, guaranteeing the Chargers will at least get the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs — and the chance to move up to the No. 5 seed the next day. next week.

Defensive end Joey Bosa returned from a 12-game absence with a groin injury that required surgery, playing 23 defensive snaps and finishing with two combined tackles

The Chargers also got a solid showing from their defense, holding the Rams to 277 yards.

Edge rusher Kyle Van Noy picked up a sack in a fourth straight game. Van Noy said afterwards that Staley deserved credit for keeping the team together after a difficult period at the start of the season, with the Bolts having won five of their last six games.

“You saw a lot of people hating him,” Van Noy said. “I’m the kind of person that everything is good when things go wrong, right? You can point out the negatives, but you also have to give credit, when credit is due. And I have feels like he deserves the credit.”

The Rams fell to 5-11 with the loss as the defending Super Bowl champions limped to the finish line.

Rams running back Cam Akers had another solid performance, rushing for 123 yards on 19 carries. Malcolm Brown also had a nice unbroken 23-yard run through the middle of the Bolts’ defense for the Rams’ lone touchdown.

In his third start, Baker Mayfield finished 11 of 19 for 132 passing yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Mayfield’s favorite target was Van Jefferson, who finished with three catches for 77 receiving yards.

“There was a very small margin of error and when it finally got out of control, it got a little out of control for us,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said. “When you get into some of those known overtaking situations, that’s where we ended up struggling and having communication issues. Don’t apologize – these guys did a good job.

“They deserved to win. Hats off to Brandon [Staley] and his group. We’ll be looking to have a good week of preparation and end this season on the right foot in Seattle.”

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Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.

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