CARSON, CA (News4usonline) – When all else fails for the Los Angeles Chargers, there is the Keenan Allen plan to fall back on. Sunday against the Houston Texans was no different. Somehow, someway, Allen seems to always find a hole in opposing defenses.
Week in and week out, once he figures out a way to navigate those small openings, more often than not Allen is often greeted with a Philip Rivers fastball that he snatches onto with his security blanket hands. As a result of combining his elite pass-catching skills, Allen has turned into one of the more lethal and dependable wide receivers in the NFL.
When it comes to leading the league in receiving yards this season, Allen is the Alpha in that category, hauling in 29 passes for 404 yards, tops in the NFL after three games. In the Chargers’ 27-20 defeat to Houston at Dignity Health Sports Park, Allen put on his usual display of aerial artwork with 13 catches for 183 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who completed 31 of 46 passes for 318 yards and the two touchdowns thrown to Allen, spoke after the game about whether No. 13 was the team’s top target during the matinee contest with the Texans.
“There are a lot of other guys getting targets too,” Rivers said. “If you’re one of the best receivers in the NFL, you better get the most targets. If you’re getting 10 targets and seven targets and that, that’s pretty good.”
Utilizing Allen as a primary threat against the Texans’ defensive backfield was a large part of the team’s offensive strategy going into the game, said Chargers coach Anthony Lynn.
“Keenan Allen is a big part of our offense,” Lynn said. “We knew we could attack that secondary with Keenan and Travis [Benjamin] on [Texans cornerback Johnathan] Joseph on the other side. That was a big part of the game plan. We’ll have to watch the tape and see. Obviously, he made some catches today and ran out the catch well, but overall, I need to watch the game.”
Statistically speaking, the 183 receiving yards Allen gained was the best of his career. The game also marked the 23rd time that Allen has hit the century mark in receiving yards. Those two scores, a 7-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter, and a 12-yarder in the second period produced by Allen, helped give the Chargers a 17-7 halftime advantage over the Texans.
Houston rallied in the second half to overcome that deficit and walk away with a tough road victory. Afterward, Allen was more focused about the Chargers’ loss at home than any kind of statistical number he may have put up.
“It’s tough,” Allen said. “In games like this, you go play like this and lose, it probably gets overlooked. It’s not as meaningful, obviously, with the loss. I try to be as consistent as I can be, be as available as I can be for the whole season.”
Being consistent is what Allen has done since he came into the league back in 2013. In his rookie campaign, Allen superseded the 1,000-yard barrier (1,046). After playing just one game in the 2016 season because of a right knee injury, Allen has played like a man on fire.
He rebounded in 2017 and hit the 1,000-yard plateau again, this time for a career-best 1,393 yards and six touchdowns. He wound up winning the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award after that season. Allen then backed up his 2017 dominance with a 1,196 receiving yards and six touchdowns season in 2018.
Fast forward to the 2019 season. After three games, Allen has picked up where he left off from the previous two years. In the season opener against the Indianapolis Colts, Allen caught eight passes for 123 yards and a touchdown in the Chargers’ 30-24 overtime win. He caught another eight passes for 98 yards in the Charger’s 13-10 defeat to the Detroit Lions.
Allen then went out and put on a show against the Texans, including spinning a Houston defender like a top into the Dignity Health Sports Park turf after a juke and dazzle move to complete a 12-yard touchdown pass thrown by Rivers.
At the end of the day, however, the name of the game is to win football games. Despite the great numbers that he is piling up, Allen and the Chargers dropped another close game, a reality that muted his stellar performance against the Texans.
“And a loss,” Allen said. “I think that pretty much sums it up. The loss pretty much sums it up.”
The three games that the Chargers have played the winner and loser of those contests have been separated by a margin of 16 points. The Chargers, a team that won a bevy of close games last season, have dropped their last two (Detroit and Houston) by a combined 10 points.
“I do think games are playing out differently,” Allen said. “Last year I don’t think we were having the lead the whole game and then losing the lead coming down to the end of the fourth quarter. It’s hard to win like that when you’re having the lead, having a chance to go up throughout the whole game and you never move from that point. Once the end of the game comes and they get another chance, eventually, they’re going to make a play.”