June 03, 2023

Injured Hopkins kicks OT game-winner as Chargers beat stumbling Broncos

Dustin Hopkins kicked four field goals, including a 39-yarder with 2:38 remaining in overtime, and the Los Angeles Chargers rallied for a 19-16 victory over the Denver Broncos on Monday night.

Hopkins, who injured a hamstring during the first half, grimaced as he kicked the ball and fell to the ground before being picked up by teammates. The ninth-year kicker was inactive for last week’s game against Cleveland due to a quadriceps injury.

Hopkins said he “felt a pop” when he made an extra-point in the second quarter. “I was hurting pretty bad,” he said after the game.

The Chargers have won three straight to improve to 4-2. They are tied with Kansas City atop the AFC West.

The game appeared to be headed toward a tie until Denver’s Montrell Washington muffed JK Scott’s punt at the Broncos 32-yard line. It was recovered by Deane Leonard at the Denver 28-yard line. Justin Herbert, who completed 37 of 57 for 238 yards and an interception, passed to Mike Williams for nine yards to get Hopkins closer for what proved to be the game winner.

Russell Wilson was 15 of 28 for 188 yards and a touchdown for the Broncos (2-4), who dropped a game in overtime for the second straight week.

Denver jumped out to a 10-0 lead with scores on the first two drives. Brandon McManus was good from 51 yards midway through the first, and Wilson found a wide-open Greg Dulcich for a 39-yard touchdown with 1:49 remaining in the quarter. The touchdown was the Broncos’ first in nearly 88 minutes of play. They produced very little after that on offense as Wilson failed to spark his offense once again.

The Chargers answered on their ensuing possession, putting together a 15-play, 82-yard drive that was capped by Austin Ekeler’s six-yard run up the middle with the Los Angeles linemen helping him get across the goalline. The Chargers converted all four of their third-down opportunities including Ekeler’s TD on the drive, which took 7:40 off the clock.

Following a Denver three-and-out, Los Angeles evened it at 10-10 on Hopkins’ 37-yard field goal with 53 seconds remaining in the half. The Broncos were not content to run out the clock though. KJ Hamler hauled in a 47-yard pass to the LA 28. Denver got to the Chargers’ nine-yard line before McManus was good from 27 yards.

The Chargers tied it on their first drive of the third quarter when Hopkins split the uprights from 31 yards.

The teams traded field goals in the fourth quarter. McManus was good from 48 yards after Baron Browning picked off Herbert. The Chargers answered with Hopkins making it from 35.