Joey Bosa opted to catch his breath instead of watching Randy Bullock’s field-goal attempt because the Chargers’ defensive end expected to play overtime Sunday.
Turned out Bosa’s day was over. The Chargers survived with a 16-13 victory after Bullock shanked the potential game-tying field goal from 31 yards with two seconds left in regulation.
“Took me a second to get excited because I really didn’t know what happened, especially without the crowd noise,” Bosa said Monday.
Bosa and the Chargers defense faltered down the stretch, but they kept rookie quarterback Joe Burrow out of the end zone when it mattered most and didn’t allow the Bengals many scoring opportunities throughout the game.
The Chargers’ offense struggled to generate points during the first three quarters, but they stayed within striking distance because of the defense. Bosa and his defensive line teammates pressured Burrow early and often.
Bosa recorded a sack and hit the No. 1 overall pick multiple times. The Pro Bowl defensive end said he was surprised by how many 1-on-1 matchups he saw against Bengals right tackle Bobby Hart.
“I was kinda expecting a lot of chips, back chips and some max protections, but I had to take advantage of my opportunities with the 1-on-1s,” Bosa said. “I think I did a good job, but yeah, they kinda left (Hart) on an island over there, but I’m not going to complain about that.”
Bosa searched for Hart after his sack because Hart was trash talking with him for a few plays before that, according to Bosa.
The Chargers hit Burrow six times and recorded three sacks, but most of those numbers came in the first half. Bosa said the Bengals adjusted by running more and settling for quick throws.
“They really didn’t give us much opportunities to get back there,” Bosa said.
Last season, Bosa was a one-man show for many games. He had plenty of help Sunday with Melvin Ingram getting a fourth-quarter interception and Jerry Tillery and Uchenna Nwosu recording sacks.
Tillery had arguably his best game as a Charger and provided a spark for the second defensive line unit.
“He’s come a really long way,” Bosa said about Tillery, the 2019 first-round pick. “With his hands and body control and how confident he is, he’s much better overall.”
The Chargers’ defensive line generated plenty of hype in the offseason after the addition of nose tackle Linval Joseph. They lived up to expectations in Week 1.
Second-year linebacker Drue Tranquill broke his left ankle in the season opener, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn confirmed Monday.
Lynn said he wasn’t sure if Tranquill is out for the season. The Chargers will likely place him on injured reserve.
The promising weakside linebacker was carted off the field four minutes into the game after his ankle tangled with a Bengals player. Tranquill was in tears as players from both teams consoled him before he was taken to the locker room.
“Wanted to quickly thank everyone for the outpouring of encouragement that I’ve received over the last 24 hours,” Tranquill tweeted Monday. “My heart hurts, but my hope is not lost. If I’ve learned anything in my journey to the NFL, it’s to never lose hope — it’s the engine for perseverance and resilience.”
The Chargers had high hopes for Tranquill in 2020 after he emerged as a standout rookie last season, especially in pass coverage.
Lynn said he’ll look at many linebacker combinations to adjust without Tranquill, the 2019 fourth-round draft pick from Notre Dame. One option could be moving rookie Kenneth Murray from middle linebacker to outside, but Lynn wasn’t sure if that’s the right move.
“We can move Kenneth because he’s so athletic, but do you want to move him to another position? That’s new learning,” Lynn said. “Or leave him where he’s at and train someone else who may not be as good at that position? We’re just looking at different things.”
The Chargers have linebacker depth with Denzel Perryman, Nick Vigil, Kyzir White and Emeke Egbule.
“It really sucked to see Drue go down,” Bosa said. “(Him and Murray) were going to be a scary combo for a lot of teams.”
Wanted to quickly thank everyone for the outpouring of encouragement that I’ve received over the last 24 hours .. 🙏🏼
My heart hurts, but my hope is not lost. If I’ve learned anything in my journey to the NFL, it’s to never lose hope — its the engine for perseverance & resilience
— Drue Tranquill (@DTranquill) September 14, 2020
Lynn said right guard Trai Turner had a chance to play against the Bengals, but decided to be safe with his knee injury.
“I like his chances better of playing this week,” Lynn said.
Lynn said he doesn’t know if running back Justin Jackson sustained a severe quad injury versus the Bengals.
“We’ll try to work (Jackson) in practice some time this week if he can,” Lynn said. “It will be a day-to-day deal.”