For seven years, Melvin Ingram has promised that if given the ball at the goal line, he’d pound it into the end zone.
On Sunday, he was given that chance, but was ultimately ruled down before he reached pay dirt.
But if you ask Ingram, he lived up to his vow, adamantly declaring he in fact crossed the end line before his knee hit the ground.
“I did,” he said matter-of-factly. “I scored. I promise I scored. I promise.”
Nonetheless, it went down in the stat sheet as a carry for no gain. Fortunately, one play later Melvin Gordon pounded it in to give the Bolts a 17-3 lead.
While Ingram may not have been able to score the touchdown on offense, he still managed to make a game-changing play in the end zone.
Oakland trailed 20-3 with just over a minute to go in the third quarter, but had a first down at the Bolts’ one-yard line. Derek Carr dropped back to pass, and was flushed to his left, wanting to go to his tight end. However, Rayshawn Jenkins had perfect coverage on Lee Smith. Carr then fired in the middle of the end zone looking for Derek Carrier.
He never saw Ingram.
Number 54 had dropped back into coverage following the play action fake, so all he had to do was jump slightly in the air to haul in the first regular season pick of his career.
“It was a big play,” he said, stating the obvious. “An interception in the end zone is always a big play, for sure.”
That wasn’t his only big play as Ingram wreaked havoc all day. He had a pivotal sack of Derek Carr in the first quarter, bringing the quarterback down for a seven-yard loss to end their first drive of the game. Ingram was also stout against the run, totaling a team-high seven tackles including two for a loss. He was his usual physical self, matching Marshawn Lynch pound-for-pound in brute toughness.
His play inspired the entire defense.
“Oh man, he’s an athlete,” said Adrian Phillips. “That’s what he does. He can play literally any position on the field. You see him in the middle of the field, you see him covering backs - he can do whatever. He adds so much versatility to our defense, and he’s in that position because he can make those plays. If they want to run it up the back (or) the middle, he’s going to smack them and make them feel (some pain). If they want to throw it, he’s going to pick it off like he did today. Or he’ll get the sack. He’s just a baller.”
Still, despite getting the win and having one heck of a day on defense, Ingram remained ticked off.
You see, he badly wanted that rushing touchdown.
“No (solace in a big game),” he said. “I wanted that touchdown. I know I got in.”
His reaction forced a chuckle out of Philip Rivers, who’s heard for seven years that it’d be a surefire score if Ingram was to get it at the goal line.
“We worked that (in practice) and he said he guaranteed he was going to get in … and he still guarantees he was in,” he said. “So, we are all giving him the benefit of the doubt and saying there wasn’t a camera angle to see it. He said, ‘I know it! I know I was across the goal line!’”
For all the light-hearted banter about his carry, at the end of the day, Ingram gets paid to be a difference maker on defense.
He was that and then some on Sunday, as he was a major reason why the Chargers improved their record to 3-2.
Yet even then, Ingram still remains unsatisfied.
“We aren’t happy yet,” he said. “We have a long way to go. We’re just trying to build stepping stones. We are just trying to put wins on top of wins, and trying to get to our ultimate goal. And that’s to win a championship.”
View the best game action shots as the Bolts battle the Oakland Raiders for the annual "Crucial Catch" game supporting Breast Cancer Awareness.