Below are three takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, wide receiver Mike Williams, guard Zion Johnson and defensive lineman Morgan Fox from Sunday night's win.
Offense puts together surgical drive in 4th quarter
With 11 minutes and 19 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Chargers faced a critical possession.
The Bolts had only converted on one third down (plus one first down by penalty) in the second half up to that point and knew they would need to put together another scoring drive to put themselves in a comfortable position to win the game.
And that they did.
A monster 17-play, 79-yard drive that took off 8:39 off of the game clock proved to be a big difference maker in the Chargers 23-17 win over the Dolphins on Sunday Night Football.
The drive saw the Bolts convert three different third down opportunities — two of them receptions by wide receiver Keenan Allen — and pick up six first downs overall.
Although the Chargers settled for a field goal and weren't able to turn the long drive into a touchdown, they accomplished something else just as important that ultimately let them leave with a primetime win — burning the clock.
Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley shared his pleasure with the fourth quarter drive in his postgame press conference, as the long drive allowed them to turn it into a two-possession game with only 2:40 remaining.
"The drive in the fourth quarter was awesome," Staley said postgame. "I just really felt like that took the air out of them a little bit. Then, for us to make it a two-possession game, that was definitely what we wanted.
"We would have loved to have scored a touchdown there, but I really felt like we controlled the pace there," Staley added. "Then, certainly, made it tough for them to come back."
The Bolts were able to keep the clock moving with an efficient mix of run and pass not only keeping the clock rolling but forcing Miami to burn their timeouts down the stretch.
"That was huge," wide receiver Mike Williams said after the game. "We were able to get them to use all their timeouts, so we just wanted to run as much time off the clock as possible and we were able to do that.
"It was a two-possession game, so we just kind of wanted to run all the time out," Williams added.
The control the Chargers offense had on the final quarter was a something they had struggled to find up until that point in the second half.
With the defense playing at a high-level all game, guard Zion Johnson said the offense also wanted to make their job a lot easier, draining as much time as possible.
"I think for us, we just wanted to finish with the ball," Johnson said. "Our defense had been playing out of their mind and we knew that they were going to be able to do their thing.
"But our job as the offense was try to take as much time off the clock, make things easier for them, let them get to the sideline, get some rest and I feel like we did a great job doing that," Johnson added.
Williams shines in return
The Chargers offense was happy to see a big target back on the field.
For the first time since Week 11, Williams took the field and made his presence known from the jump.
On a third-and-9 on the Chargers first offensive drive, Williams reminded everyone of his contested catch ability, hauling in a tough 23-yard catch along the sideline to set them up inside the red zone.
That was just the beginning, as he added a 10-yard toe-tap touchdown catch along the back of the endzone that pushed the Chargers lead to 10-0 in the second quarter.
His return not only gave quarterback Justin Herbert another one of his familiar weapons back, but also opens up a lot more for the rest of the offense.
"When you get Mike back in this movie, it just looks different, it feels different," Staley said. "There's just more available to you. Those guys were able to connect tonight."
"Nine guys caught passes tonight," Staley later added. "That's the offense that we like to play, where people touch the ball."
Williams said he felt "comfortable" on his ankle that had kept him out, and just wanted to contribute in any way he could.
"I felt pretty good," Williams said. "I just wanted to be available a full game for my team, make plays, and help us come out with a win."
The highlight of Williams night came in the third quarter, as he and Herbert connected for a 55-yard strike that led to a field goal — one of the many explosive plays the Bolts were able to put together on Sunday night. Williams finished the night hauling in all six of his targets for 116 yards and a touchdown.
With himself, Allen, Joshua Palmer and the rest of the wide receiver group back in the fold, Williams thought tonight showed their versatility of attacking in different ways.
"It just shows the type of plays we can make, type of guys we have out there," Williams said. "We know the wide receiver room is a big room, we all capable of making plays in any area of the field so we just got to continue building on that and get better next week."
As Johnson points out, this game was their first in a long time where they were able to be nearly complete at their skill positions — something he hopes can continue to improve with health.
"I feel like this is probably our first game since Game 1 where we had most of our guys active," Johnson said. "I think you can really tell with how explosive some of the passes were down the field and some of the things we were doing. I'm just really glad that guys are getting healthy, and things are starting to click."
Browse through live action photos of the Bolts Week 14 Sunday Night Football matchup against the Miami Dolphins at SoFi Stadium!
Chargers D-line makes presence
The Bolts defense brought the heat to SoFi Stadium on primetime.
With a high-powered Dolphins offense on the other side, the Chargers defense stepped up to the challenge, playing one of their best games of the season.
The Bolts were able to limit Miami offense to a total net of 219 yards, and Staley lauded the effort and confidence they were able to play with despite the number of key absences.
"I think that it was an incredible team effort on defense," Staley said. "It was an incredible team win for us. You just saw the confidence that our guys were playing with, how hard we played tonight — that's what I'm really proud of, how hard we played and how connected we were."
"We're down a ton of guys. The way that our guys competed out there, you saw the competitiveness within our program, guys trying to prove themselves and showcase themselves to the league," Staley later added. "Then, also showcase our defensive to the league, that we're up for the challenge. It was a team effort in every way."
Perhaps one of the most crucial areas of improvement the defense talked about earlier in the week came along the defensive line, and they were able to wreck the game at times either getting to the quarterback or pressuring him on a number of plays.
The Chargers defense finished the game with two sacks and four quarterback hits. Not to mention, their constant pressure led to a total team effort in limiting the Dolphins offense.
"I think we kind of all got together this week and talked about the fact that we got to play fast, race to the ball, race to the quarterback when you get a chance," defensive lineman Morgan Fox said after the game. "I think that's what we did. Kyle [Van Noy] rushed really well, Khalil [Mack] rushed well, I think the whole group in general rushed well."
Part of the Chargers pressure was made possible by the defensive backs, who covered well and gave the defensive line more time to work.
"[It] helps on the back end when DBs are covering the way they were," Fox said. "DBs and 'backers were covering great, so I think that everyone as a whole was just flying to the ball and helped create a lot of havoc."
Staley called it a total "team effort", and that it was.
Missing three major contributors in safety Derwin James, Jr., defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day and cornerback Bryce Callahan this week in addition to the other defensive injuries that have plagued the team, the team's togetherness shined on Sunday night, feeding off of each other regardless of who they had out there.
"I think everybody was feeding off each other's energy, guys were flying downhill, making plays," Fox said. "You had safeties making tackles on the line of scrimmage, corners flying up and making tackles.
"That's contagious, and everybody feeds off of that. I think we just all played off each other and it turned into a good game for us," Fox added.
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