Takeaways From Chargers’ 31-10 Week 17 Win Over Rams

What are the main takeaways we learned from the Chargers’ Week 17 win over the Rams?

The Chargers defeated the Rams 31-10 Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Week 17.

Here are five takeaways from the Chargers’ 10th win of the season:

Chargers find their running game

The Chargers offense has been pass-reliant for the greater part of the season. They’ve routinely struggled to run the ball with consistency, but Sunday against the Rams, they found their groove by putting the ball in the hands of their rushers.

In running the ball at will, the Chargers totaled 192 yards on the ground, backed by Austin Ekeler’s 122-yard, two touchdown performance. Ekeler ripped off the longest run of his career with a 72-yarder that went for a score.

“It was blocked perfectly,” Ekeler said of the big run. “We were running power, everything was kicked out, able to get through the corner. I got caught earlier in the year, so the only thing on my mind was, ‘Speed, speed, speed, don’t get caught.'”

Wide receiver Keenan Allen laid a key block to propel Ekeler for the big gain.

“A big crack [block] by Keenan Allen. It was well blocked up front, but then you have to have your receivers blocking in the run game to get the splitter,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “It was a decisive run. It was a downhill run. I liked the way that we ran the football today.

The Chargers totaled 192 rushing yards, with Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree contributing 70 yards on the ground. It was the team’s second-highest rushing output of the season.

Mike Williams dazzles in blowout win

Mike Williams was Justin Herbert’s go-to target in Week 17, catching seven passes for 94 yards. Williams, who hauled in two passes with one-hand throughout the contest, pulled off one of the better catches you’ll see all season.

“As a pro coach, you get to witness a lot, you get to see a lot of special,” Staley said. “But then there are some that are just more special than the rest, and that was certainly one of them.”

Williams remained level-headed when talking about his spectacular grab following the game. He downplayed the highlight catch, while also stating that he and Rams coach Sean McVay had a quick interaction, receiving praise for his efforts.

“Make a play. That’s the main thing,” Williams said. “Just react to the ball. I was able to get the right hand on the ball and come down with it.”

“I think that’s what we’ve seen for the last few years out of Mike Williams is that he is one of the premier players in the league,” Staley added. “We certainly play a lot better when he touches the ball in the deep part of the field. He was able to make a bunch of big plays for us.”

The return of Joey Bosa

Edge rusher Joey Bosa appeared in his first game since Sept. 25 when he suffered a groin tear that required surgery. Bosa, in his return, was on a snap count, logging 24 defensive snaps against the Rams.

Staley said the biggest thing for Bosa getting back into action was working his way towards accumulating the stamina it takes to play an entire game.

“I was glad to see him out there. He improves our chances significantly,” Staley said of Bosa. “I think it was very important for him to get out there and play because the players know that they need football shape, they need to get their pads on, they need to go play, they need to know what it’s like to go in and out, playing with pace. 

You need to get all that football stuff acclimated so that you can go be your best. It was a good step for him today. I thought that he had a couple of really good rushes out there today. More than anything, it’s just him playing the game and getting that accumulation of snaps so that he can be better next week.”

Bosa logged two tackles and one pressure. Late in the game, when the Chargers held a commanding lead by three possessions, they pulled several of the starters as the game approached garbage time. But for Bosa, in getting him back into the swing of things, he remained getting reps late in the fourth quarter.

Defense continues its hot stretch

The Chargers defense continued its dominance in recent weeks, holding the Rams to 277 total yards and 10 points.

After allowing a touchdown and field goal in the first half, they pitched a shutout in the final two quarters, marking back-to-back games in which they’ve done so.

“I really love the way we played in the second half,” Staley said. “I thought that in the second half, that was the type of team that we’ve been playing with for the last three games. I was very pleased with our second-half performance.”

The pass rush has continued to play a factor throughout their stretch of improved play. Against the Rams, they logged three sacks and 15 quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus. 

Kyle Van Noy, Morgan Fox and Sebastian Joseph-Day all recorded a sack each. Van Noy set a career-long streak with four consecutive games with a sack. Meanwhile, Fox and Joseph-Day, two former Rams, got the better part of their former team.

“From a coach’s perspective, I think that he’s comfortable,” Staley said of Van Noy. “He played in the same system for a long time. There are just little things [different]. Football is football to him, but I think that he is getting comfortable. I think the role that he has taken on with this football team was different, maybe, than what we first envisioned because we got cleaned out with injuries and he had to do other jobs. I think that he’s really settling in to play on the edge.”

Chargers have a path to improve playoff seeding

The Chargers improved to a 10-6 record and have solidified themselves as at least the No. 6 seed in the AFC – nothing lower. But they’ve also laid out a path to presumably secure the No. 5 seed in the regular season finale if they can pull out a win over the Broncos.

A Chargers win in Week 18 will bump them up to a higher seed in which they will play either the Jaguars or Titans in the Wild Card Round.

Staley said the team has no intention to rest players for health purposes in Week 18, adding that they want the highest seed possible entering the postseason.

“I think that we’re going to try and go as high as we can go,” Staley said of playoff seeding. “I think that is going to be our mission, to keep our guys healthy, but we’re going to try and attack next week so that we can get that the highest seed that we can get.”

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Read more from Charger Report:

Chargers Rout Rams 31-10 With Complete PerformanceLive In-Game Updates: Chargers vs. Rams Week 17Pregame Report: Chargers vs. Rams Week 17Chargers vs. Rams Game Day Betting Odds: Week 17 Point Spread, Moneyline, Over/UnderChargers Plan to Activate Joey Bosa vs. Rams

Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.

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