Broncos Bungle Overtime, Chargers Steal Ugly Win

The Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos played to a stalemate through four quarters on Monday Night Football until finally, in a contest of who could prove more ineffective, the Broncos muffed an overtime punt to hand the Chargers a possession deep in scoring range. Chargers kicker Dustin Hopkins nailed a heroic 39-yard field goal, and the Chargers stole a hard-fought 19-16 win.
Tonight's game didn't include the wild quarterback shootout AFC West fans envisioned when the Broncos traded for Russell Wilson. Both teams struggled through the air, settling for short passes and clumsy dump-offs. Wilson continued his ugly start to the 2022 regular season, netting a mere 160 yards on 32 dropbacks. The 11-year veteran took another four sacks, lifting his season total to 20, and the Broncos failed to score more than 16 points for the fifth time this season.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert wasn't much better, totalling 224 net yards but on a gargantuan 59 dropbacks. Herbert was timid and tentative all night; he targeted running back Austin Ekeler relentlessly, completing 10 of 16 passes in his direction for a frustrating 47 yards. Hopefully, the impending return of five-time Pro Bowler Keenan Allen will spare the Chargers more performances like this one.

If the game had a memorable performance, it had to be Chargers kicker Dustin Hopkins. Hopkins injured his hamstring early in the game, yet fought through the pain to hit crucial kicks the rest of the evening. He even collapsed on the game-winner. His agony earned the ecstasy of his teammates, who picked him up off the turf and showered him with congratulations.     
Looking ahead to Week 7, the Broncos will try to get control of their spiralling season against the surprisingly competitive 4-2 New York Jets, and the Chargers will attempt to earn their fifth win of the season when they host the 3-3 Seattle Seahawks.

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