Chargers' Late Lateral Goes Awry In Awful Loss To Carolina
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, right, celebrates his rushing touchdown with Hunter Henry (86) and Ryan Groy (72) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis )
Keenan Allen caught Justin Herbert's pass over the middle about 15 yards from the Panthers' end zone. He took one step and fluidly lateraled the ball to Austin Ekeler, who was sprinting the opposite way for what almost certainly would have been a gameending touchdown.
- Associated Press
- Last Updated: September 28, 2020, 6:48 IST
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INGLEWOOD, Calif.: Keenan Allen caught Justin Herbert’s pass over the middle about 15 yards from the Panthers’ end zone. He took one step and fluidly lateraled the ball to Austin Ekeler, who was sprinting the opposite way for what almost certainly would have been a game-ending touchdown.
Only Ekeler couldn’t hang on, the fast-moving ball slipping between his hands and over his shoulder. The Los Angeles Chargers’ two talented skill players had missed their hook-and-ladder connection by inches on the final snap of a 21-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Literally the only thing I dropped all day is a little pitch from Keenan Allen across the middle that would have ended up stealing the game, said Ekeler, who had 11 catches for 84 yards. “So yeah, I feel like somebody punched me right in the face.”
That lost moment of sports beauty was crushing to the Chargers (1-2), even if coach Anthony Lynn was much more concerned that his team got to the point where it needed something magical to beat a rebuilding opponent playing on the road without its best player, Christian McCaffrey.
The Chargers have endured plenty of embarrassing losses over the past half-decade, but this one will stand out, particularly if the Panthers go on to have the rough season expected by many.
Even in an afternoon full of mistakes, the Chargers had a chance to wipe them all away in spectacular fashion but Ekeler and Allen couldn’t get it done.
It hurts me so bad just knowing that we would have literally gone 99 yards from the 1-yard line, as far back as you can, and literally ended with zero time on the clock on a trick-play lateral to win the game, Ekeler said. How epic would that have been?
The Chargers lost this game well before the final snap, which ended with the ball on the turf and the Panthers breathing an enormous sigh of relief.
Los Angeles committed three turnovers and didn’t force any by Carolina. The Chargers extended a Panthers touchdown drive with a penalty and drew eight flags in total.
So even though the Chargers outgained the Panthers 436 yards to 302 and got another encouraging game from Justin Herbert, they’re still winless under their rookie quarterback. The Chargers also have a losing record after three games for the sixth consecutive season dating back to San Diego.
We have to do a better job eliminating the stupid and the turnovers, Lynn said.
The hook-and-ladder was set up to be the storybook ending to a 99-yard drive in the final 1:46 with no timeouts. It also would have been an early signature moment for Herbert, who didn’t feel discouraged when Carolina downed its punt at the Los Angeles 1 before the drive.
What a great opportunity to go 99 yards, Herbert said he thought instead.
Herbert coolly got the Chargers to the Carolina 23 with 13 seconds to play, but a false start and an end-zone incompletion left them with no options but a trick play albeit one they’ve been eager to try. Allen executed his end almost perfectly, flipping the lateral to Ekeler and then even running into the defender following Ekeler across the middle.
Weve been working on it for like two years, Allen said. We finally got a chance to call it. It happened a lot faster than it does in practice, obviously. Honestly, weve just got to execute that. I think its a walk-in touchdown. I could have put it more on his hands, more out in front of him.
Everything about the balletic play worked perfectly until Ekeler simply couldn’t hold on. Lynn was stoic about the missed connection, saying only, I thought it was there. I thought we had a chance.
Its tough to come so close like that, Herbert added. But Austin and Keenan, I believe 100 percent in those guys, and the next time something like that comes up, I know were going to execute.
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