Austin Ekeler rushed for 122 yards, scored two touchdowns and became the fifth running back with 100 receptions in a season as the Los Angeles Chargers rolled to a 31-10 victory Sunday over the Los Angeles Rams in a matchup of SoFi Stadium co-tenants.
Ekeler, who has an NFL-leading 18 touchdowns (13 rushing, five receiving), also had a career-best 72-yard TD run midway through the second quarter to extend the Chargers’ lead to 14-3.
It was the third 100-yard rushing game in Ekeler’s six-year career and his second this season. He had a career-high 173-yards in an Oct. 10 win at Cleveland.
Justin Herbert passed for 212 yards and two touchdowns as the playoff-bound Chargers won their fourth straight to improve to 10-6. Mike Williams had seven receptions for 94 yards, including a one-handed, toe-tapping 18-yard grab along the left sideline late in the second quarter.
It was the Rams’ 11th loss of the season, surpassing the 1999 Denver Broncos for most defeats by a defending Super Bowl champion.
Cam Akers had his second straight 100-yard game with 19 carries for 123 yards. Baker Mayfield was 11 of 19 for 132 yards.
The lone touchdown for the Rams (5-11) was a 23-yard run up the middle by Malcolm Brown to get them within 14-10 in the second quarter.
Ekeler scored on scored on consecutive possessions in the second quarter to give the Chargers a 14-3 lead. After having a 10-yard run off left guard to give the Bolts a 7-3 advantage, Ekeler patiently waited for a seam to develop on the right side of the line before going 72 yards.
Left guard Matt Feiler pulled to help create an opening while wide receiver Keenan Allen and tight end Donald Parham also laid key blocks before Ekeler broke into the clear.
Ekeler became the fifth running back in NFL history to have a 100-reception season with his first catch, an 8-yard pass from Herbert on the Chargers’ opening possession.
Ekeler joins former Chargers great LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Centers of Arizona, Matt Forte of Chicago and Christian McCaffrey as the only other players to achieve the feat. McCaffrey is the only running back with two 100-catch seasons.
THIRD QUARTER BREAKTHROUGH
The Chargers found the end zone in the third quarter for the first time in 11 games when Herbert connected with Gerald Everett for an 8-yard touchdown to cap an 11-play, 75-yard drive to open the second half.
Herbert — who completed 21 of 28 passes — came into the game without a TD pass in two straight games for the first time in his three-year pro career.
Herbert’s 3-yard TD pass to Donald Parham early in the fourth quarter gave Herbert a combined 100 rushing and passing touchdowns. That ties him with Dan Marino for the most through the first three seasons of a career.
Rams: DB Nick Scott suffered a shoulder injury in the third quarter but returned midway through the fourth.
Rams: Conclude their season at Seattle next Sunday.
Chargers: Wrap up the regular season at Denver next Sunday.
Source: NBC Los Angeles