Although many starters for the Chargers entering Sunday's clash with the Miami Dolphins were deemed inactive, Dontrelle Inman, Troymaine Pope, and others stepped up while Philip Rivers and Austin Ekeler helped the Bolts finish strong in a 30-10 victory.
“Shoot, it’s good to win,” Rivers said. “It took a lot of guys contributing. Obviously we have a lot of injuries. A lot of guys down, a lot of guys stepped up, other guys went down during the game and we were able to overcome it all and win the game.”
Due to multiple injuries, offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt’s creativity was put to the test, as seven players finished the game with over 20 receiving yards while Pope caught his first career touchdown pass in the first quarter.
Inman also finished the game with 76 receiving yards on five catches before exiting the game in the fourth quarter due to injury.
Meanwhile Rivers finished 24-for-30 with 310 passing yards to go along with two touchdown passes.
With Sunday’s victory, Rivers became the ninth quarterback in NFL history to reach 120 career regular-season victories. Also, his 80 percent pass completion percentage, 310 yards and two touchdowns produced a passer rating of 131.9, improving the Bolts to 29-0 all-time when Rivers tops a 130 passer rating.
"(Rivers) was playing lights out today," Ekeler said. "I feel like he was really sharing the ball (and) everyone got a little love. We had guys playing receiver more than they usually have, they made some plays and he was finding them down the field."
After a quiet afternoon in Week 3, Ekeler was on fire against the Dolphins, finishing with 60 yards rushing, 62 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
“Being the main guy I thought (Ekeler) stepped up and I think he’s done a nice job,” head coach Anthony Lynn said. “Other than the fumble in Detroit his mistakes have been minimal and his production has been huge so I was pleased with the way Austin played.”
Ekeler became the first undrafted running back in the common draft era to have three receiving touchdowns in each of his first three pro seasons, a record that only motivates Ekeler to continue improving.
"I still have stuff I need to work on beyond cuts and things like that... (But) I've definitely learned a lot being the starter in terms of playing smarter."
A look inside the Bolts locker room after Week 4's victory in Miami over the Dolphins.
With Rivers, Ekeler and the rest of the Chargers offense rolling, Lynn didn’t deem it necessary to play running back Melvin Gordon, who returned to the team on Thursday.
“(It was) very tempting to play (Gordon) at the end there,” Lynn said. “But at the same time, he’s only had a day-and-a-half of football practice. I want him to get more practice time and more time with the guys in the offense. He’ll get some more reps next week, for sure.”
Along with the offense's play, the Chargers’ comfortable lead in the second half was largely thanks in part to the defense. Josh Rosen and the Dolphins couldn’t muster a point in the final two quarters of play, while the Chargers’ defense sacked Rosen five times during the game and Michael Davis recorded the first interception of his career.
“(Davis’s interception) was big because he’s had a lot of opportunities,” Lynn said. "We call him the PBU (pass breakups) guy. But he broke on a couple today and I thought he was going to get a pick and he finally got one. I think when a guy finally has that first one, they may come in bunches.”
The Chargers will look to continue their winning ways next week against the Broncos. Kickoff is at 1:05 p.m. PT from ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park.