A number of young Chargers entered Week 17 primed to see their most extensive action of their career as the Bolts suffered an almost unfathomable amount of injuries entering the 2015 finale.
A multitude of additional injuries sustained during the game itself further thrust them into the spotlight.
While the Chargers came up on the short end of a 27-20 decision, their performance was an encouraging sign as the Bolts head into the offseason.
Perhaps no one made more of their opportunity than Steve Williams. The third-year cornerback missed his entire rookie year with a pectoral injury, and has seen sporadic actions over the past two seasons. He responded with a career day in which he was singlehandedly responsible for three turnovers in three consecutive series in the first half.
"That was one of the best defensive games I've played in," he said. "I just take every play seriously and try to focus on every play. If you can do that, then you have the best chance to win…(Like) everything else, when you get the momentum like that, things start flowing to you."
After getting beat by Emanuel Sanders in the first quarter, Williams chased him downfield to strip and recover a fumble at the San Diego five-yard line. On the next series, he picked off Brock Osweiler and later had a strip-sack of the QB on the SD 21 that Damion Square recovered.
"He (forced) a fumble there, had an interception, he had a (strip-sack); it was just like what's next?" Head Coach Mike McCoy said. "I'm very happy with the way he played today."
"Stevie had three turnovers by himself, and that's what it's all about," Manti Te'o said. "Big credit for Stevie. A lot of people don't know, but Stevie is always doing extra work. I always know that Stevie is in the weight room. While everybody else is getting ready for practice, he's in the weight room getting his work in. On Mondays, when we come into watch the film, he's in there early. On the field, he's working on his foot work. That kind of stuff speaks a lot about who he is as a player. I, myself, as a teammate recognize that and it's no surprise to me the success he had individually in this game."
On the other side of the ball, Tyrell Williams saw his first true playing time at wide receiver after Malcom Floyd suffered a concussion. His very first catch was one to remember, as he burned past the Denver secondary and was wide open for an 80-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. He finished with two receptions for 90 yards.
"Shoot, I haven't thrown many 80-yard touchdowns in my career," Philip Rivers said. "It's hard to get someone that wide open especially against the number one defense in the league, so that was awesome."
While the Williams' made a name for themselves, McCoy was proud of the entire team for the way they battled all year despite their shortcomings.
"(I'm proud of) the whole entire football team, not just one guy. They fought their tails off, and a lot of guys who just got here stepped up and played a good game for us…. I just told the football team how proud I am of them. When we've been faced with adversity, whether it's losing a football game or a number of players (to) IR, we're never going to make an excuse during the season. You see guys down there today taken off in a cart and it just summarizes our season. I'm just so proud of the players, coaches (and) entire organization. We just kept on fighting and we just came up the short end too many times."