The NFL announced the 2018 Pro Bowl rosters on Tuesday, and the Chargers have their most players heading to the annual All-Star showcase since 2012.
Four Bolts were selected to represent the AFC, headlined by Joey Bosa who will start at defensive end. The others to make the team include QB Philip Rivers, WR Keenan Allen and CB Casey Hayward. Bosa and Allen will make their Pro Bowl debuts while this marks Rivers' seventh selection and Hayward's second.
"It's always an honor to be selected," Rivers said. "Knowing that opposing coaches and players vote you in, it's meaningful."
"I'm so excited for Keenan, Joey and Phil," added Hayward. "This team and organization is pulling in the right direction. To be a good team in this league, you've got to have good Pro Bowl and Hall of Fame-type players. We have two Hall of Fame players, and now we've got four Pro Bowlers this year."
Overall, the team's four players named to the Pro Bowl are tied for the second most in the AFC behind the Pittsburgh Steelers.
However, there is a good chance they won't be the only Chargers headed to Orlando.
Four other Bolts were named Pro Bowl alternates, including DE Melvin Ingram (first), RB Melvin Gordon (second), OT Russell Okung (second) and DT Corey Liuget (fifth).
The reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Bosa took his game to the next level during a standout sophomore campaign. The 22-year old has totaled 61 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles over the first 14 games of the season. His 11.5 sacks rank fifth in the NFL and second in AFC. Meanwhile, his four forced fumbles are the third-most in the league. In addition, his 61 tackles rank fourth in the league and second in the AFC among defensive linemen. Bosa famously set the record for most sacks through a player's first 20 games (19) when he brought down Tom Brady in Week 8. The NFL announced over the weekend that he finished first in fan voting among all AFC defensive ends.
At quarterback, Rivers has led the Bolts to the NFL's third-ranked passing offense. He's completed 310-of-498 attempts (62.2-percent) for 3,838 yards with 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a 93.8 passer rating. Number 17 ranks fifth in the league in passing yards, seventh in completions and seventh in TDs. He is on the verge of becoming only the third QB in NFL history to eclipse 4,000 passing yards in nine straight seasons.
Meanwhile, one of the NFL's top feel-good stories continues as Allen made his first Pro Bowl after missing virtually all of the 2016 campaign with a knee injury. KA13 has caught 88 passes this season for 1,197 yards and five touchdowns, setting new career highs for receptions and yards in a single season. His 88 catches are tied for fifth-most in a single season in Chargers history, and he has a chance to set the all-time mark currently held by LaDainian Tomlinson (100). At the same time, Allen has been one of the game's most clutch weapons. He leads the NFL with 32 catches on third down, including a league-high 27 good enough for a first down. Perhaps most notably, Allen became the first player in NFL history to catch at least 10 passes, record at least 100 yards and notch at least one TD reception in three straight games.
"It's great to see Keenan recognized as one of the best receivers in the game," Rivers said of his number one target. "He put in a lot of hard work to come back and have a great year. He certainly earned it. I'm very happy for him."
Finally, Hayward is headed to Orlando for the second consecutive season as he continues to be a lockdown corner for the Bolts. He leads the NFL with 20 passes defensed and ranks seventh with four interceptions. Hayward leads a secondary that has not allowed a single 100-yard receiver all year, and ranks fourth in the NFL against the pass.
As for the alternates, Melvin Ingram was named a first alternate at defensive end. Number 54 has totaled 51 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 10.0 sacks on the year. His 17 tackles for loss rank third in the league while his 10.0 sacks are tied for 10th. Ingram's also notched a career-high 22 QB hits. He was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month in September after notching 5.5 sacks over the team's first three games.
A Pro Bowler in 2016, Gordon is a second alternate this year. The third-year back out of Wisconsin is on pace for his first career 1,000-yard season as he's carried the rock 248 times already for 931 yards (3.8 ypc) and seven touchdowns. His seven rushing scores are tied for the fifth-most in the NFL and third in the AFC. In addition, his 28 rushes of at least 10 yards are the sixth-most in the league. Gordon has also emerged as one of the top running backs out of the backfield, setting career-highs with 49 receptions for 398 yards and another four touchdowns. His four receiving TDs are the most in the AFC among all running backs and are tied for third in the NFL, one behind Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey. This past week, Gordon became the third player in Chargers history to record at least 1,200 yards from scrimmage and 10-plus total touchdowns in consecutive seasons. The only others are Lance Alworth and LaDainian Tomlinson.
A second alternate at tackle, Okung anchors an offensive line that has allowed Philip Rivers to be sacked on the fewest percentage of his drop backs (3.3). Named a team captain midway through his first year with the Bolts, he is also part of an offensive line that's allowed Rivers time to post six games with a passer rating above 105 and eight games above 100. They've also been effective on the ground, helping the team run for a total of 1,391 yards.
Finally, Liuget is a fifth alternate at defensive tackle. The longest-tenured member of the defense, he's totaled 21 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in 12 games while ranking – among AFC defensive tackles – tied for second in forced fumbles, tied for ninth in tackles for a loss and tied for fifth in passes defensed.