Justin time for the Bolts’ rise

JUSTIN HERBERT played like a superstar in the Chargers’ win over Cleveland on Sunday (Mike Nowak/Chargers).

While the Los Angeles Dodgers work to add to their illustrious resume as one of Major League Baseball’s top teams, another Los Angeles team is poised to break through as a worthy rival to the other big league operations in the LA-OC area.

The Los Angeles Chargers played and won an epic game Sunday in front of a huge crowd at SoFi Stadium, the victory and the turnout testifying to the idea that the team has finally cast off their image as “that team from San Diego.”

Justin Herbert, with five touchdowns and almost 400 yards passing (not to mention coolness under fire) directed the team to a 47-42 win over a very good Cleveland Browns team.

That victory launched the Bolts (4-1) into first place in the AFC West.

“To win a game like this one, one that turns into a track meet, you have to have a superstar quarterback to win it. That’s what he is, he was fantastic in this game,” said Coach Brandon Staley. “You can’t win a game like that if you don’t have a player like Justin Herbert.”

Long-time SoCal football fans are used to quarterback comparisons: now we have two of the best in Herbert and the Rams’ Matthew Stafford.

Next up: The Chargers (4-1) will visit the Baltimore Ravens (3-1) on Sunday.

But don’t forget the Rams, fans …

One of the toughest and loudest places to play in pro football is in Seattle, where the noise level in Lumen Field could peel paint off your pickup truck a mile away. But the combination of quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Robert Woods helped lift the Los Angeles Rams to a 26-17 win over the Seahawks despite ear-shattering yells and stomps all evening long on Thursday.

Stafford passed for 365 yards and one touchdown. Woods caught 12 passes for 120 yards, setting up much of the Rams’ scoring. Stafford did all that despite briefly dislocating a finger on his throwing hand.

“It was just a little bit out of place and [I] was able to put it back and keep going,” he said. “It didn’t affect me too much, to be honest with you.”

Commenting on Woods, he said, “He was big when we were backed up, and made some explosive plays. He played great tonight.”

Next up: The Rams (4-1) will visit the New York Giants (1-4) on Sunday.

The epic North vs. South battle rages on

This rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants isn’t exactly a civil war, but it does add an additional element of spice to the National League Division Series resuming today (Monday). Each team has a win, and – based on how the season has gone  – a five-game journey is likely.

Who’s going to win? Nobody knows, but the oddmakers are favoring the Blue Crew to pull off a win at Chavez Ravine. In fact, after splitting two up north, the bookies favor the Dodgers to win the series and advance to the league championship series against the winner of the Brewers-Braves series.

The Final Out: In 1965, the Giants and Dodgers were involved in a fierce pennant race. During a particularly chippy game in which two players were knocked down by pitches, Dodger John Roseboro catcher returned a pitch to Sandy Koufax so close to batter Juan Marichal’s head it might have been a barber’s shears. Marichal responded by slamming Roseboro in the head with his bat. “There no hard feelings on my part,” Roseboro said later. Just like there are no hard feelings between the fans of the 2021 versions of these teams. Riiighhhttt ….

“Sports Monday” is written by Pete Zarustica.


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