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Why Keenan Allen Had a 'Maestro Performance' in Week 3

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Below are three takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, quarterback Justin Herbert, wide receiver Keenan Allen and more following the Week 3 win in Minnesota:

Keenan Allen has a career day

In his 129th career game, Keenan Allen was the best he's ever been.

The longest-tenured member of the Chargers set a new career best for receptions and yards, finishing Sunday's win with a monster stat line — 18 receptions for 215 yards.

The 18 receptions set a new franchise record for receptions in a single game, as he became the first member of the Bolts to surpass the 200-yard receiving mark since 2010. It was also his 14th game with 11-plus catches, the most in NFL history.

Oh, and he also added to his career day by completing the first pass of his 11-year career.

Midway through the third quarter, the Chargers offense pulled deep into their bag of tricks, trying a play they attempted back in Week 14 of the 2021 season.

After receiving the backwards pass from quarterback Justin Herbert, Allen launched a deep ball to a streaking Mike Williams, who took it in for the 49-yard touchdown.

"I kind of messed it up two years ago as well, against the Chiefs," Allen said after the game. "Same play, Mike [Williams] was open, and I threw it short at his feet and he couldn't make the play on it, so I had to get it back."

When asked if he's been looking to make up for the failed attempt a couple of years ago, Allen was honest:

"Yeah. All week," Allen said. "Let's go."

It was the cherry on top to what Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley called a 'maestro performance' by the Chargers wide receiver.

"Keenan really throws a good football. We've been working on that play and I'm excited for Keenan, because it really capped off one of those maestro performances for him," Staley said. "A career game, a record setting game.

"Your best players play like that in a big game, it gives you a chance and Keenan and Justin were fantastic in the game today."

Herbert added: "Perfect form. Incredible ball. Keenan will sometimes throw the ball so we know how special he is as a receiver and a quarterback. Got him out there and he made the play."

Allen found himself open, slicing his way through the Vikings defense that showed a defensive look the wide receiver took advantage of all throughout the afternoon.

"I was just talking to [Herbert]," Allen said. "They were pressuring a lot and they were playing that flatline coverage, so I was like, 'I'm not going to break in or out, I'm just going to run a hitch and if he can tackle me, hats off to him'."

Herbert added: "We took a look at how they played defense and tried to maximize our matchups with him. We know how special Keenan is where you get him 1-on-1. You have to find ways to get him the ball."

Six of Allen's franchise record 18 catches came on third down, including a massive 20-yard connection with Herbert on third-and-17 that would lead to a Chargers go-ahead touchdown on the very next play.

It didn't matter if the Vikings defense knew where the ball was going, Allen was making just about every play.

"Defenses are defenses. Everybody on the field can know where the ball is going but somebody has got to make a play," Allen said. "You can point at it and say 'oh, he's going here' and do all of this, but you still have to go stop it."

Allen's record-breaking performance was eye popping to everyone on the outside, but for his teammates it was just Keenan Allen being Keenan Allen.

"When you've been here for a while and you watch him every day, I'm not really surprised," wide receiver Joshua Palmer said. "He's putting on a show for everybody else, but he's always putting on a show for us in practice, in games. It's almost like that's normal, like we're not surprised to see it, I'm not surprised to see it.

"I love that guy, glad to see he played a great game," Palmer added.

In a game where the Chargers needed their first win of the season, Allen was historic.

"Today, you need a guy like him who's a security blanket for the quarterback when there's that much pressure," Staley said about Allen. "He was just fantastic, he was good running with the ball after the catch, level one, level two, threw a pass.

"It was one of those complete performances," Staley added. "Part of Chargers history today."

Parham scores twice

Donald Parham, Jr., isn't hard to find when the Chargers get in the red zone.

The 6'7, 237-pound tight end has become one of the Bolts best weapons near the goal line throughout his time on the team because of his massive frame — and it was on full display in Sunday's win.

Parham finished Week 3 with two catches, but most importantly, two touchdowns, a category he now leads the Bolts in through three weeks.

But it was his touchdown near the end of the first half that stood out, not only big for the final outcome of the game, but because it was also one of the most difficult passes to catch in his career.

With under a minute to play in the second quarter the Chargers faced a fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Herbert dropped back to pass, surveyed the field and fired one of the fastest passes of his career over the middle to Parham.

The margin for error on the pass was thin, but that didn't matter for the tight end.

"God blessed me with great, strong hands, so that's all I got over that," Parham said.

Herbert said after the game that as fast as the pass was, he thinks it could've been faster. Still, the end result was what the Bolts were looking for.

"There's more in the tank for sure, but it was a hard pass," Herbert said. "It was tight coverage, and the great thing about Parham is he is so tall and he has those long arms, and he was able to hold onto the ball.

"It definitely was a tough pass, and that's why I was so excited that he came away with it," Herbert added.

The fourth-year Bolts tight end has been as efficient as ever with his catches, as he now has 10 touchdown receptions among his 46 career catches.

When the Chargers are in the redzone, No. 89 will always be an option.

"To be honest, I don't think you're thinking too much in that situation," Herbert said. "You're going through your reads. The first, second, and third read weren't there, so you go back to DP, and you happen to find a big body.

"He is easy to find out there," Herbert added. "Just put it up high and let him go up and get it. It was a heck of a play by him."

Browse through live action photos of the Bolts Week 3 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings

Gilman sets early tone

The Chargers defense looked to set the tone fast in Week 3, and it was safety Alohi Gilman who made the first big play of the afternoon for the unit.

The Vikings offense was driving the ball on the first possession of the game, not only knocking on the door of the red zone, but already in field goal range.

On a third-and-8, Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson seemed to have picked up a first down with a pass over the middle — at least until Gilman had something to say about that.

While linebacker Kenneth Murray, Jr., was trying to bring down Hockenson, it was the safety who came in and ripped at the ball, coming away with the forced fumble and recovery.

"Just took his money," Gilman said about the fumble with a laugh. "That's it."

It was the second forced fumble and the third fumble recovery of Gilman's career and took points away from the Vikings in a game where each one mattered.

The result was not a shock to Gilman however — it's a result of the preparation the defense takes towards taking the ball away.

"Honestly, it's just something we rep in practice," Gilman said. "Something we're really conscious about and intentional in practice.

"Whether it was me or someone else, I don't think anyone is really surprised, it's something we constantly rep in practice," Gilman added.

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