Chargers' Keenan Allen provides consistency, establishes bond with Justin Herbert

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Chargers receiver Keenan Allen knows quite a few things, including what his limitations are.

After he went down with excruciating back pain during the Monday Night Football matchup at the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 12, there was only one thing the father of three could do.

"Lay in the bed and watch Netflix," Allen said Monday.

That meant no picking up any of his kids, each of whom is under the age of 5, and no piggy-back rides -- none of the usual roughhousing. They needed to let Daddy rest.

Although it was fortunate that Allen had the bye week to convalesce, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn wasn't too concerned about his Pro Bowl receiver.

"He should be fine," Lynn said after the overtime loss to the Saints.

Allen was better than fine when he returned to play against the Jacksonville Jaguars, catching 10 passes for 125 yards. The Chargers needed every one of those receptions to defeat the Jags and snap a four-game losing streak.

Allen has been the Chargers' go-to receiver since he arrived as a third-round pick in 2013. He was a mainstay for longtime Chargers QB Philip Rivers, and he's now rookie Justin Herbert's guy.

Before leaving the game against the Saints, Allen caught two passes for 29 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown. On the season, Allen has 44 receptions for 481 yards and two touchdowns, and he has gone over the 100-yard receiving mark in a game twice. More importantly, he was part of the Chargers' getting back on the winning track.

"It was looking like a shootout ... they score, we score ... we looked like a real [solid] football team," Allen said.

Allen's admiration for Herbert is evident, especially after Sunday, when the Chargers found themselves behind in the second half before they scored 17 unanswered points to get the win. It was a victory that did not come easy.

"He's a young quarterback that can play in this league," Allen said of Herbert. "And he's just going to get better, the more reps he gets and more things he can see in the actual game plan -- can't do nothing but learn from [them].

"We tight, too."

Tight as in been-together-for-a-while tight. That makes a huge difference and is something both players have worked hard to cultivate.

They talk constantly about football and video games, though Allen admits he doesn't have as much time for video games because of his three children. That, and his distaste for the "Madden" video game series, which he describes as "trash."

Allen was unhappy with his 89 rating last year and strived to improve his game, getting with cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. to work on his moves.

Allen improved just one point during the season and was frustrated that the video game's ratings evaluators didn't see what others did.

This year, his ranking jumped up a bit to 92, but Allen says he's staying away from the game.

Regardless of his "Madden" ranking, Allen has the size (6-foot-2, 211 pounds) and the chops to take Herbert anywhere he wants to go and the numbers to prove he's legit. His performance Sunday was further proof.

"I think it just shows our character. We could easily have gone down and given up," he said. "But we didn't want to leave without the W."

Herbert wasn't reliant on Allen, as he spread the ball to eight receivers en route to a career-high 347 yards. The rookie also threw three touchdown passes. It is Herbert's ability to get everyone involved that has his top receiver excited.

"He's just going to get better," Allen said. "We have the talent, guys who can get it done, and as long as he keeps playing the way he is, we have a chance."

Next up for the Chargers are the Denver Broncos and Allen's old pal, former Chargers running back Melvin Gordon. Gordon held out the first part of the 2019 season, ended his holdout, played the final 12 games and became a free agent, signing with Denver. It will be a reunion for many players with Gordon, who was a popular teammate during his five seasons with the Chargers.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," Allen said. "A lot of talking. I'm excited for it."