So I've given myself 24 hours to get over the emotions of this game, and now I'm ready bestow BFTB awards to the best and worst San Diego Chargers players of the week.
What's funny to me, about this game, is that it was the complete opposite of what we've become used to as Chargers fans. The team came out fast, clearly winning the first-half, and then were outdone in the second half as the Broncos coaches made better adjustments. An uncharacteristic game for the Bolts, but with similar results (a close loss).
The Bolts and Dolts are listed after the jump, along with their stats. Keep in mind that any players left off this list had a good game, it just wasn't a great game or a bad game.
Philip Rivers - 20/33, 274 yds, 1 TD. Stats-wise, Philip was outdone by Kyle Orton. Also, the majority of Phil's success came in the first half. However, he spent the second half running away from pass-rushers and still managed to not make any bad throws. In short, Philip did everything we could've asked for considering what he was facing.
Offensive Playcall - 20 first downs, 311 total yds. I thought the offensive calls in the first half were brilliant. The screen to Antonio Gates and the double-screen to Mike Tolbert certainly helped keep the defense on their toes. The Chargers offense was every bit as good as the Broncos' on this day, with more first downs, about the same amount of yards and an equal time of possession. However, the Chargers' offense only put up 16 points to Denver's 20 and the Chargers went 1-for-2 in the red zone (in terms of TDs) to the Broncos' 2-for-4 success rate.
Kevin Ellison - 7 tackles. Welcome to the big-time, kid! Ellison seemed to take Clinton Hart's place in the defense, on the field for the majority of the snaps, and had great success. Not only did he lead the team in tackles, but he did a pretty good job defending Tony Sheffler most of the night.
Antonio Cromartie - 3 tackles, 2 defended passes. Cromartie first big game of the season, in my opinion. He spent less time going for picks and more time playing the receiver. Antonio covered Eddie Royal most of the night, and Royal ended with 0 catches after being thrown to 4 times. Cro had some trouble on special teams coverage, but he didn't belong out there anyways.
Larry English - 4 tackles, 1 sack. English didn't necessarily have a great game, but in his 5th game of his career he looks like the best pass rusher on the team.
Offensive Line - 5 sacks allowed. The offensive line actually didn't play horrible, they just really miss Nick Hardwick. The line's weakness now is identifying and picking up blitzers. The Chargers ran for 3.5 yards per carry (higher than Denver's 3.1 YPC), but couldn't handle the heavy blitzing packages that Mike Nolan was throwing at them. In the end, the Broncos got a sack from an Inside Linebacker and a Cornerback in addition to Elvis Dumervil (2) and Darrell Reid.
Stephen Cooper - 4 tackles. I know, he was playing with an injury that probably should've kept him out, but Cooper was exploited by Denver's offense. They ran at him, threw at him and generally directed their offense towards him. I saw a play where Shaun Phillips slid over and played ILB with Cooper coming off the field and it didn't work much better. I really hope Cooper and Kevin Burnett can get healthy and stay healthy, because the coverage skills of the Chargers backup ILBs is a real weakness.
Pass Rush - 1 sack. Apart from English's sack, which was a second-effort play that was made because Orton held onto the ball too long, the pass rush was completely and totally non-existent. I can't blame Rivera, because he called his share of blitzes. I think the blame lies firmly on the defensive line, weakened by injuries, that cannot keep the blitzing LBs clean. Sadly, Chargers fans, I don't know if it's going to get any better.
Eric Weddle - 5 tackles. Well, we now have our reason why Weddle can never ever play the SS position: He cannot cover TEs. It was a problem last year (the name Dante Rosario sticks out) that was blamed on Hart (who was just as bad), but Weddle deserves some of the blame. Every time the Chargers lined Weddle up on Sheffler, the Broncos noticed it and attacked it. It's Rivera's job to make sure that Weddle one-on-one against a TE doesn't happen anymore.