COSTA MESA, Calif. — After 315 days, an 83-mile franchise relocation, nine defeats and one head coaching change, the Chargers are winners again.
The flight from New York to Los Angeles was a pleasure after the Chargers’ resilient 27-22 victory over the Giants on Sunday, even if coach Anthony Lynn was already thinking about how to turn their first victory in their new hometown into a streak.
“Guys played with a lot of character, a lot of resolve,” Lynn said Monday. “We didn’t execute at times very well, but they still found a way to get the job done. Sometimes, I think there’s a very important lesson in that. We talked about that today a little bit. When a team can do that, I think you can build off of that.”
A win was sorely needed by the Chargers (1-4), particularly in a close game. Since last season, the Chargers had lost 12 of their last 13 games decided by eight points or fewer — but they rallied from a five-point deficit in the fourth quarter and held off the winless Giants.
“We’ve lost a lot of games like that, and we finally won one of those games, one of the close games,” running back Melvin Gordon said at the Chargers’ training complex. “That definitely gives you confidence and momentum going into the next one.”
The next one is a trip to Oakland for an AFC West showdown with the Raiders (2-3), but the Chargers have a day to enjoy the feeling of success that had eluded them in LA this year.
The Chargers didn’t force a turnover during their entire recent three-game homestand, but the defense came through late against Eli Manning.
Melvin Ingram continued his spectacular start to the season by stripping the ball from the Giants quarterback during a sack and then recovering the fumble in the fourth quarter.
Ingram has 7 1/2 sacks already this season, sitting one sack behind Dallas’ Demarcus Lawrence for the NFL lead.
“When (Ingram) got the contract that we gave him, for him to come out and just not slow down, but try to get even better, (and) with the humility that he has, it’s been really encouraging,” Lynn said. “He has become one of the leaders on our football team.”
Joey Bosa is also catching Lynn’s attention, even if the second-year pro’s season numbers haven’t yet matched Ingram’s eye-popping statistics. Bosa matched Ingram with two sacks and six tackles against the Giants, who couldn’t handle the Chargers’ bookend edge rushers.
“He’s having a really good season. He hustles,” Lynn said. “Just because he doesn’t have the sack numbers of maybe Melvin doesn’t mean he isn’t having a good season. He’s playing really well against the run. He brings it every single down, and that’s hard to do for four quarters.”
Gordon scored the go-ahead TD on a pass from Philip Rivers with 2:58 to play. Tre Boston then picked off Manning’s final pass with 49 seconds left to seal the Chargers’ first win since Nov. 27, 2016.
To win two consecutive games for just the second time since 2014, the Chargers likely will need to commit fewer than the 11 penalties for 87 yards that plagued them against the Giants.
Penalties were the first area of concern cited by Lynn when asked about Los Angeles’ plans for the upcoming week. The Chargers’ 38 penalties are the eighth-most in the NFL.
“Some of the aggressive penalties, those are going to happen,” Lynn said. “It’s the pre-snap penalties that we need to clean up. You just keep emphasizing it. You keep working it. You’ve got to hold the guys accountable.”