Before the season started, it seemed quite likely that in the wake of the season-ending injury to Hunter Henry, Mike Williams would have to step up to be the next main target besides Keenan Allen. Then most of the Los Angeles Chargers season came and went, and while Williams definitely made some big plays, it turned out he wasn’t as badly needed as expected. He even went without a catch once or twice and it didn’t matter. But that all changed after Allen went down. On Thursday night’s wild win over the Kansas City Chiefs that pushed them to 11-3, he definitely had no choice but to step up—and did he ever.
Mike Williams Steps Up for Los Angeles Chargers in Crazy Win
The Keenan Allen Injury
The last thing the Chargers needed in a battle that could very well decide the AFC West was for their best receiver to go down. But that’s what happened when Allen attempted to make a one-handed grab in the end zone that was ultimately called incomplete. He came away with a hip injury. He returned for one more play, and then was gone the rest of the night.
This left quarterback Philip Rivers with the previously mentioned Mike Williams, plus Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin at wide receiver and the veteran tight end Antonio Gates. Surprisingly, Benjamin and Gates had some big plays of their own. But last year’s first-round selection was the one who had to be cast into the “main target” role. And he did not disappoint.
Ultimately, Williams finished with seven catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a 19-yard rushing touchdown, totaling 95 yards and three touchdowns. He was indeed the go-to guy. This became most apparent on what was expected to just be the game-tying drive, but ultimately become the game-winning drive instead.
At the one-yard line with four seconds left, Williams caught the touchdown that would’ve tied the game with a leaping grab, showing his ability to both make big plays and make those big plays in clutch situations. (There was some debate about whether he pushed off, but even if he did, that would’ve been just one of many missed/bad calls going against both teams.) And then the Chargers decided to go for the two-point conversion and for the win instead of taking it to overtime. Williams got wide open on the play and made the game-winning grab.
If anybody was still wondering, Williams has now proven that he was worthy of being a first-round pick. It wasn’t like Williams hadn’t been doing fine up to this point; he had seven touchdowns coming into the game. But he hadn’t been given a ton of opportunities, despite all the touchdowns. And now, he has proven that he can be that main guy opposite Allen.
And now the question does exist of how much of a role Williams may need to play down the stretch. It is unknown at this point how bad Allen’s injury is. If Allen does miss any time, Williams will have to continue his expanded role going forward. Fortunately, that’s something that Rivers and the Chargers can probably feel quite comfortable about at this point. The Chargers clinched a playoff berth with the Thursday victory, and next up they will take on the Baltimore Ravens while hoping for the Chiefs to lose to the Seattle Seahawks. If the latter happens, the Chargers can have a chance at winning the AFC West altogether – and getting a first-round bye.
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