Melvin Gordon is one tough son of a gun.
He’s on the receiving end of punishing blow after punishing blow, yet it’s those opposing defenders who end up on their backs.
Few in the league have been better in churning out yards after contact than the Chargers’ running back, and that was on full display in Sunday’s win over the 49ers.
Time after time, it looked like Gordon was going down.
Time after time he broke free, churning his legs and refusing to be denied.
“He ran outstanding,” Head Coach Anthony Lynn said. “His effort – there were times he could have stepped out of bounds but stayed between the yard lines. He made plays. I think when you see a young man make an effort the way he made today, I think it gives the whole sideline juice. He inspired me on the sidelines seeing him run.”
Philip Rivers certainly agrees.
“He was awesome,” the quarterback said. “Credit to him. I think when he runs like that, it gives juice to the huddle and the offensive line when they see him running back there and scrapping for yards like he was. I think it gives juice to the whole team…. It was an all-around gritty performance by him.”
In the end, Gordon toted the rock 15 times for 104 yards, averaging 6.9 yards per carry against a 49ers defense that entered the game among the league leaders in run defense.
“He hit it awfully hard, and the guys in front did a nice job,” Rivers noted. “They’re one of the top defenses in the league, and we averaged (just under) five yards a carry, which is awesome. Melvin ran super hard. I know it gives the whole sideline, everybody, a boost when they just see the effort that he gives.”
It also demoralizes the opposition.
“Gordon was playing well,” said 49ers linebacker Rueben Foster. “He opened up in the second half…(He) did great at the end of the day. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
In addition to his prowess on the ground, Gordon continued to be one of the league’s top receivers out of the backfield. He tied for the team lead with seven receptions, totaling 55 yards through the air with another touchdown catch, giving him four on the year.
Add it all up and it was a huge day for Gordon, who climbed up the Chargers’ record books in several categories.
In the first quarter, he passed Chuck Muncie for the eighth-most receiving yards among Chargers running backs in team history books. He also became the seventh Charger in history to reach 3,000 career rushing yards, passing Muncie (761) for the sixth most career rushing attempts in franchise history as well. Gordon moved into sole possession of the ninth-most scrimmage yards in team history by a running back.
Overall, the running back’s 159 yards from scrimmage was the second time he eclipsed the 150-yard mark this season, having racked up 166 total yards against the Chiefs. Meanwhile, his seven catches marked the third time this season he caught six or more passes, tying him for the team lead with 24 receptions.
As Rivers summed up, Gordon has been absolutely invaluable to the team’s success through the first four games of the year.
“Like we’ve always said, we’re our best when we’re balanced,” he said. “I think last year when we were rolling, we were balanced. We’ve been that this year for the most part…. It’s not going to always go perfect. I thought our guys hung in there together and fought. The guys up front did a nice job, but I think they would tell you too, when they see Melvin running like that and fighting for every single yard, it adds even more juice to the huddle and the sidelines when they see a run like that.”