Sunday December 1st, 2013, The San Diego Chargers sat at 5-6 with the Playoffs very well in reach. A win against the Bengals would put the Chargers right in pace for the 6th seed in a week AFC with 4 games to play and a favorable home schedule…
When you break down the game, Philip Rivers actually played well. Even though his stat line was not near his best of the season (23/37 for 252 1 TD 1 INT), he still put the team in position to win.
Many could speculate and point out different reasons for why the Chargers lost this game, and I would say it is all of them.
First, losing the Turnover Battle is not the right formula to win games.
Antonio Gates was a direct cause of two of them. Rivers was driving on the first turnover only for Gates to fumble on the 18-yd line. That is guaranteed 3 pts and changes the dynamic of the game. Seeing the second Gates turnover live at Qualcomm, I will say I thought it was a fumble. Seeing the replay after, I understand that it was a strip before the catch causing an INT. Pretty bogus INT for Rivers as Gates simply got out-toughed for the ball. Seems to me like thats how a majority of Rivers’ 9 INTs have gone this season (see Vincent Brown).
Its really disappointing seeing Gates with 2 fumbles this season after not having one since 2008. The first half of the season Gates seemed back in his prime, but you can tell he has aged as the season has gone on. He still gets double teamed which is causing a new certain someone to come open… but that is for a different article.
The third turnover of the game was Keenan Allen’s cough up after a reception. To me, this play epitomized the game. Our offense just could not get things going in one full swing the entire day. And to be honest, you have to give credit where credit is due. The Bengals defense is easy top-5 in the league and played like it. They shut down a good offense who noticeably could not get in sync.
This game truly showed you how limited San Diego’s offense is. For how good a Quarterback Rivers is, and how well he has played this season, he still does not have very many weapons. Keenan Allen is great, but has been getting double teamed as defenses are starting to respect his play. Chargers really just need 1 more guy, just 1 more on offense and they will have a complete-and-elite offense. Vincent Brown has been a huge disappointment this season and we needed that 2nd-WR production vs the Bengals with Royal out.
My next item comes about the Chargers defense. Atrocious. Not to be harsh, but the Chargers D-line got completely man handled by the Bengals offense. Our D-line is supposed to be our strength. Watching this game live, you could see Corey, Kendall, and Cam getting tossed. I have a great respect for our DE’s but these guys need help. Chargers defense is just a complete mess right now. Our 3-4 offense hinges on good LB play, and with 3 injured OLBs it is hard to get pressure in the box.
San Diego’s defense gave up 164 yards on the ground for nearly 4.4 yards per carry. For as bad as Andy Dalton was playing in the first half, they were still eating up precious clock. This was apparently a game where Rivers needed to get in rhythm with his offense, but with the Bengals on the field the majority of the second half they just could not get things going.
Chargers D cannot make the big play sometimes. In the 4th quarter the Chargers were still in position to win and gave up a 50 yard catch-and-run to Andrew Hawkins that sealed 3 pts making it a 2-score game.
Many of the Bengals big plays came on third downs. Something you might correlate to defensive stands – Stadium Noise…
Now, in my section fans were going nuts. But I was sitting on the “Chargers’ Side,” which is downright disappointing. Looking across to the north-side of the stadium, you notice a majority of the seats were empty.
The one’s that were full were orange Bengals fans. This is depressing when the Chargers are in a must-win game and we cannot even sell out the stadium. I understand this may be due to a few seasons worth of damage, but Chargers still had faith. I don’t want to hear Qualcomm is a poor facility, or Bengals are not a big draw, the fact is our fans let the team down. Defenses feed off of a loud stadium and we just did not bring it.
Then again, if they had simply won some of the close games this season, that stadium may have been a-rockin…