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Gordon, Ekeler Prove to be Lethal Combo


The Chargers have several reasons to be optimistic despite dropping their season opener.

The combined play of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler is certainly one of them.

Let's take a closer look at what each player was able to do individually.

Gordon gave the Chiefs fits all day, carrying the ball 15 times for 64 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. In addition, he had a career day in the passing game, setting a new personal best with 102 receiving yards while tying his career-high with nine receptions. Add that all up and he accounted for 24 touches and 166 yards from scrimmage.

Meanwhile, Ekeler was also a thorn in Kansas City's side while playing 22 snaps to Gordon's 62. The second-year running back had five carries for 39 yards (7.8 ypc) in addition to five catches for a career-high 87 receiving yards, including a 13-yard TD catch. Overall, his 126 yards from scrimmage also set a new career-high while his touchdown catch made him only the second undrafted free agent in Chargers history to catch four touchdown passes over the first two seasons of his career.

Thus, it's clear the Bolts have a one-two punch out of the backfield that can pay major dividends over the course of the next 15 games. With them leading the way, the Chargers averaged an impressive 5.6 yards per carry.

"The guys ran the ball like crazy up front," Rivers said, referring to Gordon and Ekeler. "We couldn't run the ball as much as we would like to because of where the score got there in the fourth quarter, we had to go. When you're down three scores at one point and then you're down two scores under five minutes, you have to throw it just about every snap. The running game was awesome. The guys up front did a great job, and I thought Melvin and Austin ran hard. They're two guys who are hard to tackle and they complement each other very well."

Lynn was also quick to compliment the team's offensive line.

After all, the guys doing the dirty work in the trenches often prove to be the straw that stirs the drink when it comes to pounding the rock.

"Austin and Melvin couldn't have done anything without that offensive line," he said. "I thought the offensive line up front blocked well…. The backs did a good job in the rotation. Those guys have two different skillsets. I like it when they can attack a defense with those skills out of the backfield, receiving the ball or running on the perimeter or inside. That part really looked good."

Equally important to their work on the ground is what they did through the air.

Gordon was particularly impressive as his nine catches weren't only the most by a running back in Week 1, they were the fifth-most of any player. The only ones to catch more passes were Michael Thomas (16), Odell Beckham Jr. (11), Emmanuel Sanders (10) and Julio Jones (10). At the same time, his 102 receiving yards were the second-most by a RB, trailing only Alvin Kamara (112).

As Gordon explained it, in order to be considered an elite back, contributing in the passing game is just as important as pounding it on the ground.

"You just have to make your plays," he said. "That's what it's all about, (being effective) any way you can get the ball. If you want to be elite, and be in that category, by any means you just have to do something with the ball."

Check out the top photos from the Bolts season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.

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