Joey Bosa sack ignites Chargers, who improve playoff stock

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CARSON, Calif. — Down 10 points early, the Los Angeles Chargers needed a spark.

In his second game back, defensive end Joey Bosa provided the play his team needed, as the Bolts came out as flat as a pancake for a second straight week.

Bosa recorded his first sack of the season early in the second quarter, blowing past Arizona Cardinals right tackle Andre Smith to drop rookie quarterback Josh Rosen for an 11-yard loss, one of two sacks for the Ohio State product on the day.

“Me and Mel [Ingram] were talking games, acting like we were going to run something,” Bosa said of the first sack. “It kind of got the tackle to check Mel, so he didn’t get a really good kick-step, and I just had the get off on him and got the edge.”

Although Philip Rivers lost a fumble on the ensuing possession, Bosa’s play served as a wake-up call. The Chargers outscored the Cardinals 28-0 in the second quarter to seize control of the game, and the Bolts won going away 45-10 at StubHub Center on Sunday.

Bosa’s big day came a week after a “tough” season debut following a lengthy rehab from a bruised bone in his left foot suffered in August. Bosa had one tackle and one quarterback hit in the loss to the Broncos.

“Last week it was tough because I think I was more worried about my foot and how other parts of my body would hold up,” Bosa said. “Now that’s out of my mind, I was all focused on football. And it went a lot better today.”

With the victory against the Cardinals, the Chargers have now won seven of their past eight games and sit at 8-3 on the year, the team’s best record at this point of the season since 2009.

Rivers had one of his best games of the year. With a 4-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Allen, Rivers tied an NFL record of 25 straight completed passes.

However, his attempt to break the record fell at the feet of running back Austin Ekeler midway through the third quarter, as Rivers was under pressure.

Rivers finished the game 28-of-29 for 259 yards, with three touchdown passes and no interceptions. He was replaced by backup Geno Smith to finish out the game.

The Chargers are the current No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs with a two-game lead over the Baltimore Ravens at No. 6. While the Chargers sit firmly as an AFC wild-card team with five games left, they will get perhaps the team’s toughest test this season next week when they hit the road to face a perennial playoff team in the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“It will be a heck of a challenge, but these are the game we love to play in,” Rivers said of playing the Steelers. “A December game in Pittsburgh on Sunday night — we’re an 8-3 team and I don’t know where they’re going to end up. But they’re going to be right there. … It’s kind of all you can ask for going into December.”

And the Bolts may do so without the services of workhorse running back Melvin Gordon, who suffered an MCL injury to his right knee, according to an initial diagnosis, a source told ESPN on Sunday. The injury happened on an ill-advised double reverse call, as Gordon was legged-whipped by Arizona defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche for a 10-yard loss.

Gordon left the field on his own. However, he was checked out by medical staff on the sideline and later went to the locker room for further evaluation.

Gordon was questionable going into Sunday’s game due to knee and hamstring issues, and suffered the injury with his team in control of the game, leading 28-10.

Gordon finished the game with 61 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Gordon now has 13 touchdowns on the season, scoring at least 12 touchdowns in three straight seasons after going without a touchdown his rookie year.

Source : http://www.espn.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/288032/joey-bosa-sack-ignites-chargers-who-improve-playoff-stock