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Quarterly Review: Chargers stars win their matchups with Bills

FIRST QUARTER

Theme: A repeat of Baltimore, minus the rain.

Difference maker: Mike Williams. One of the many glaring differences between the passing games of the Los Angeles Chargers and Buffalo Bills is the No. 2 receiver position. The Chargers have the No. 7 overall pick from 2017 in Williams. The Bills have Zay Jones, who has yet to prove himself to be a matchup problem for defenses. The 6-4 Williams was too big for 5-11 Vontae Davis in grabbing a 10-yard TD pass early in the game.

Injury report: The Bills lost nickel cornerback Philip Gaines to an elbow injury just eight minutes into the game. With slot corner Taron Johnson already out, that put safety Rafael Bush back into slot coverage, which means more predictable zones from the Bills. Not good against the No. 1 pass offense from 2017.

Zebra report: The Bills caught a lucky break that led to a field goal. After getting a third-down stop, Chargers cornerback Desmond King II gloated with a leg-swinging kicking motion. Dumb. That drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which kept the Bills drive alive.

SECOND QUARTER

Theme: Philip Rivers looked like a Hall of Famer.

Matchup watch: Melvin Gordon vs. Bills LBs. The Chargers fourth-year running caught two touchdown passes in the second quarter. He was a home run as the 15th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Gordon has long arms, big hands and a strong upper body. While he’s not a threat to score every time he touches the ball, he was timed at 4.46 and plays that fast, which makes him dangerous running outside. One question mark on Gordon coming out of Wisconsin was his receiving ability, because he played in a conservative offense. Gordon caught 58 passes last season. His hands are excellent.

Difference maker: Rivers. Trailing 21-3 late in the quarter, the Bills might have gotten a red-zone stop when Trent Murphy broke free and hit Rivers almost instantly on a second-down play. But Rivers shovel-passed the ball forward to Gordon just before going down for a 7-yard gain. Most quarterbacks would have been sacked.

No shows: The Bills have been outscored in the first half, 54-6, through two games. Their first-down disadvantage through two games: 32-5. Ouch.

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THIRD QUARTER

Theme: Besides Vontae Davis, the 52 other Bills did not run for the bus.

Matchup watch: Melvin Ingram vs. Bills OL. The Chargers’ defensive end, who had 10.5 sacks last year, was a handful. Ingram got 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits. Los Angeles moved him around a lot, and he’s tough on twists and games inside, as he showed in forcing an interception on an ill-advised throw by Allen. The Chargers rushed only four men, but Ingram looped from over the right tackle to around the left side of center Ryan Groy, who wasn’t quick enough to get a piece of him. Ingram caught Allen from behind but couldn’t quite drag him down. Allen should have thrown the ball away.

Key drop: Andre Holmes couldn’t hang onto a third-and-10 pass at the Chargers’ 39. The ball was behind him. He dropped it.

Zebra report: Jerry Hughes was penalized for being offsides, which wiped out a Bills third-down sack by Lorenzo Alexander and Trent Murphy. The replay showed Hughes was not offsides. If anything, left tackle Russell Okung committed a false start. The Bills got the stop anyway.

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FOURTH QUARTER

Theme: An empty New Era Field in the fourth quarter is no fun.

Matchup Watch: Casey Hayward vs. Kelvin Benjamin. The Chargers’ No. 1 cornerback played like a high-quality starter. Hayward gave up the 57-yard pass to Zay Jones in the second quarter. The only pass he allowed to Benjamin was a 16-yard back-shoulder throw in the third quarter.

“My goal this week was to be lock-down the whole game,” Hayward said. “I matched Benjamin pretty much the whole game. How many catches did he have? I think we did a good job.”

Benjamin had just two catches. His last-minute TD did not come against Hayward.

Zebra report: The NFL has four new referees this year. The Bills got rookie Shaun Hochuli in his debut last week and rookie Clay Martin this week. Martin's crew threw 10 flags last week in his debut. (The league average was nearly 16 after Week 1.) This week he called only 12, six on each team. There were some debatable calls but the officials were not the focus of the game. That’s the way fans like it.

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