The veteran wide receiver continued his exceptional 2023 on Sunday night with 14 catches for 106 yards in a 20-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Allen, 31 and in his 11th year, upped his season totals to an NFL-best 97 receptions for 1,117 yards as he closes in on career highs in both categories after only 11 games.
A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Allen’s campaign to earn All-Pro honors figures to be hurt by the Chargers’ struggles. They are 4-7 and last in the AFC West.
With fellow starting wideouts Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer on the injured reserve list, Allen has experienced a significant increase in production under first-year offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
“I think we’re doing a great job of game-planning,” Allen said. “Kellen’s putting me in different spots, moving me around, motioning. It makes it hard for them to focus on me.”
During the Chargers’ three-game losing streak, Allen has 35 catches for 397 yards and three touchdowns. He has been targeted 46 times. His next closest teammate is Austin Ekeler with 16 targets.
Sunday was Allen’s sixth career game with at least 14 receptions, which is an NFL record.
Allen and Ekeler both were targeted on the same play against the Ravens.
Late in the third quarter, the Chargers ran a double pass with Justin Herbert hitting Allen and then Allen firing across the field to Ekeler.
“It was a dime,” Allen explained later.
The play netted 17 yards to convert a third and 17. That possession, however, ended without points as Herbert was sacked and fumbled, with Baltimore recovering at its 25-yard line.
“Just a play where we’re trying to get a chunk,” Allen said. “Hopefully, it works out. Came out pretty good.”
Allen also threw a touchdown pass to Williams in the Chargers’ Week 3 victory at Minnesota.
“I got two dimes,” he said.
More questions with Q
Sunday was another tough game for rookie receiver Quentin Johnston, who was targeted three times and finished with only one catch for seven yards.
The first-round pick suffered a rib injury late in the third quarter and didn’t return even though coach Brandon Staley indicated Johnston was cleared medically.
“It wasn’t that he couldn’t go back in the game,” Staley said. “We just didn’t feel like through the flow of the game — with where he was — that it was the right thing to go back in the game.”
Johnston has 21 receptions for 190 yards for the season.
Close is not good enough
Though they ended up losing by double digits, the Chargers were within three points — 13-10 — in the game’s final two minutes.
But they again failed on a late possession when they could have tied the score or taken the lead.
The Chargers are 2-5 in one-score games this season, with those five losses coming by a combined 14 points.
“We have the players who have the makeup and the mindset,” Staley said. “It just hasn’t come together as a football team yet. It, obviously, starts with me. I'm fully responsible. We need to hang in there.
“As long as we keep after it the way that we have, coming to the practice field, coming to the meetings the right way, then we'll get the quality that we're after. ... This was a tough one tonight.”
More Mack sacks
Edge rusher Khalil Mack had a pair of sacks to push his total to 13, a franchise record for the first 11 games of a season. Mack’s career high is 15, set in 2015, his second year in the league.
Mack also became the second player since individual sacks became an official stat in 1982 to have 12-sack seasons with three NFL franchises, joining Hall of Famer Kevin Greene.
In his own words
“I gotta make sure I do my part and make the plays. [I] can’t give up the ball. Gotta make sure I’m playing at the standard I’m supposed to be playing at.” — Ekeler, who lost a fumble for the second consecutive game
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.