The Los Angeles Chargers beat the Washington Football Team, 20-16, in the season opener of 2021.
Washington won the toss and deferred. The Chargers started the 2021 NFL season with the football – and put together a perfect opening drive.
Quarterback Justin Herbert led a 10-play, 75-yard drive ending with a three-yard touchdown rush by Austin Ekeler. Herbert was 6-of-6 for 40 yards on the opening drive. Per Chargers communications, he became the only quarterback in history to have 400 completions over the first 16 starts of a career.
Four different receivers touched the ball. Ekeler and Larry Rountree III combined for four rushes for 30 yards.
Los Angeles' defense then did its job, forcing a three-and-out on Washington's first offensive series. The Chargers' second drive started at their own 12 and they quickly went three-and-out, too.
Washington answered on its second drive, which started at Los Angeles' 48. Running back Antonio Gibson's 27-yard rush set up an eventual 30-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal.
The Chargers led 7-3 after one quarter. Washington will start the second quarter with the ball at its own 43.
A 35-yard defensive pass interference penalty by cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. set Washington up at the Chargers' 22. Three plays later, Joey Bosa sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick, who fumbled. The ball was recovered by Washington tight end Logan Thomas. Hopkins' 43-yard field goal cut Los Angeles' lead to 7-6.
Herbert responded. On L.A.'s next possession, he found Mike Williams for an 18-yard gain. He connected with Keenan Allen for completions of 17 and 10 yards. Herbert found Jalen Guyton for a 22-yard reception. Those plays set up a 33-yard Tristan Vizcaino field goal, his first as a Charger.
On Washington's next possession, Uchenna Nwosu delivered a punishing hit on Fitzpatrick, who left the game with injury. Taylor Heinicke came in relief, but Washington went three-and-out.
The Chargers closed the half on offense with a 18-play, 73-yard drive capped off by a 27-yard Vizcaino field goal. L.A. controlled the ball for 21:11 of the first half.
But Washington had one final opportunity before halftime. A roughing-the-passer penalty on Bosa helped to set up a 48-yard Hopkins field goal as time expired.
The Chargers led 13-9 at the half.
Browse through live action photos of the Bolts season Week 1 matchup against the Washington Fooball Team in Landover, Maryland.
Washington got the ball to start the second half and Heinicke remained in at QB as Fitzpatrick was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
The Football Team took its first lead of the day off an eight-play 81-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown connection from Heinicke to Thomas. The touchdown was set up by a 37-yard snag from WR Terry McLaurin on the previous play.
The Chargers then assembled a drive that got them down to the WFT seven-yard line. Herbert was hit by DE Montez Sweat and the play was ruled a fumble with the ball going into the end zone for the touchback. The play was reviewed and upheld, and Washington took over at their own 20.
Hopkins trotted on the field early in the fourth quarter to attempt a 51-yard field goal from the Chargers' 33-yard line that was no good.
On the ensuing Chargers drive, Herbert delivered another great pass between two Washington defenders for a 17-yard gain. After the big play, Herbert let out a pass intended for tight end Stephen Anderson but was picked off at Washington's four-yard line by cornerback William Jackson III, the interception was returned for no gain.
The following play, Gibson fumbled inside the five-yard line as LB Kyzir White came and poked the football out. The ball was then recovered by Kenneth Murray to give possession back to the Bolts.
Three plays later, with four receivers stacked to the right side of the field, Herbert looked left instead to find Williams one-on-one in the end zone for a three-yard touchdown. The Chargers then re-took the lead, 20-16, after the PAT was good from Vizcaino.
On the next drive for Washington, Heinicke threw an incomplete pass to the right, but Bosa was called for his second roughing the passer penalty giving the Football Team the first down at their own 31-yard line; however, Washington eventually punted and never got the ball back with just under seven minutes left in the game as the Chargers assembled a long drive to close the game out.
Allen finished the game hitting the century mark in receiving yards on the day.
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