The second-year running back was front and center in San Diego’s offense as the Chargers did what they could not do a week ago against the Kansas City Chiefs -- close out a victory.
With Danny Woodhead suffering a right-knee injury in the first half, the Chargers had no choice but to rely on the team’s first-round selection from last year’s draft.
And as he has done so far through two games this season, Gordon responded. This time it was with his first career 100-yard performance, finishing with 102 yards on 24 carries and his third touchdown of the year, a 3-yard score on San Diego’s opening drive.
With his mother, Carmen Gordon, wearing a powder-blue No. 28 jersey for the first time since he joined the Chargers, Gordon said the key to his success was leaning on a well-known refrain from his former teammate at Wisconsin, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson: Ignore the noise.
Gordon said in his rookie season he got caught up in watching how much success other running backs in his draft class like Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams and David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals were having, and that made him press even more.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to not worry about other people’s success, regardless of what it is,” Gordon said. “Focus on you and your teammates. We just get so competitive sometimes. I know I was.
“And you just kind of look at other players and kind of see other players separating, and you can’t worry about that because then you go out there and try to do too much.”
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said he has noticed a more focused and aggressive running style from Gordon in his second season. Unlike last year, Rivers said that Gordon is taking what the defense is giving him.
“He’s starting to see it,” Rivers said. “He’s running confident, and that’s the way he ran [Sunday]. He made a couple cuts where he started to bounce it, and then he saw it bouncing over the top and said, 'Alright, I’m going to take my 3 [yards].’
“There were a handful of very smart runs. There weren’t pretty or ones anyone is talking about, but they were smart runs, and then he made some of the big ones as well.”
Woodhead will have an MRI to determine the extent of his right-knee injury and could be unavailable for a handful of games. So it will be important for Gordon to handle the load, both as a runner and pass-catcher.
Gordon said he’s ready for the challenge.
“When you see one of the leaders of the team go down, that’s kind of heartbreaking,” Gordon said. “We just always seem to get that [injury] bug every year. Guys are dropping like flies, and we just got to figure something out.
“But you play in this league, and you understand stuff happens. It’s a beast of a game, and you just have to be ready. Guys just got to step up and make it happen.”