That may be the tone of the entire 2013 Season for the Chargers.
The San Diego Chargers have won a lot of games this season against good teams where they were the underdog. Coincidentally, they lost a handful of games where they were favored in. San Diego seems to have absorbed the energy of being labelled an underdog and rises to the occasion. Many analyst to end the season, and here now before this Bengals game, have picked against the Chargers.
The Chargers gave an excellent team effort on Sunday to pull out the upset win in Paul Brown Stadium, where the Bengals had not lost all season. The defense was the difference in this game as they forced four turnovers verse a good Bengals offense. They played the run well and shut down most big plays. Melvin Ingram, in particular, was getting in the backfield on every passing play it seemed. You could tell Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton was getting anxious in the pocket.
Melvin Ingram had an outstanding game, though not showing on the stat sheet. He was very aggressive and even played well in pass coverage as he caught an interception in the second half. The Chargers defense has played with much more energy in the weeks that Ingram has been back. The defensive backs have been playing better as well, much ado to the pressure up front. Shareece Wright played pretty tight coverage all game recording 5 tackles and 1 pass deflection. He was guarding star receiver AJ Green for most of the game and limited him to only 3 receptions for 34 yards. Wright also intercepted an Andy Dalton pass in the second half which was nearly returned for a pick six down to the 4 yard line.
Philip Rivers did not have to do much in this game. He handed the ball off to a barrage of backs who rushed for 196 yards. Ryan Mathews had a strong first half but failed to play past the first series in the second half. Mathews has been nursing an ankle injury for the past 3-4 weeks now. Danny Woodhead picked up the slack rushing for 54 yards on 15 carries. Ronnie Brown surprisingly had the big day for the Chargers running backs as he ran for 77 yards on only 8 attempts. That was aided by a 58-yard touchdown run late in the 4th quarter which pretty much sealed the game for the Chargers.
Philip Rivers only went 12 for 16 for 128 yards and 1 touchdown. He played efficiently and threw when he had to make plays on third down. His touchdown catch was to Ladarius Green on a sweet fade route to the back of the end zone. Perfect throw only made possible by Green’s monstrous height. Green led the Chargers with 34 yards on 3 receptions.
This was the Chargers first playoff win since 2008. Many fans are getting some spark of confidence as San Diego has been playing well down the final stretch of the season. The Broncos in Denver is San Diego’s next step if they want to make a deep playoff run.