Both the offense and defense were less than spectacular for the first three quarters of Sunday's game. Fortunately, when it mattered most at the very end of the game, both units rose to the occasion. Anyone who watched the game knows this and the numbers reflect it.
The offense was unsuccessful more often than not on Sunday. This was mostly thanks to a complete inability to run the ball, but even when Rivers dropped back to pass the Chargers were still failing every other play.
The futility in the running game is attributable to several factors that were noticeable during this game and have been present for most if not all of the season. Tomlinson, who gets a majority of the carries, is slow to the hole and goes down on first contact almost every time. The play-calling also leaves something to be desired as Turner continues to call running plays out of power formations that telegraph his intent, but provide no push.
The 50/50 success of the passing game is more benign. Rivers and co. try to complete a lot of low percentage downfield throws and are actually very successful doing so. It just isn't going to show up that way in what is essentially a pass/fail system where all successes are equal. The final drive of the game, though, was impressive by any standard. The Chargers rate of success was 75% (6 of 8) and they completed four passes of 10 or more yards. Also, the only completion that wasn't good for a first down or touchdown was a nine yarder on first down.
The defense's stop rate of just over 50% isn't anything to sneeze at, but it isn't terribly impressive either. What is impressive is that the defense recorded a stop on the final nine plays of the game which covered the Giants' last three possessions. That run of dominance also kept the score close enough with enough time left on the clock to allow for the offense's game-winning drive.
Those last three possessions are even more impressive when you realize that until that point, the defense was only recording a stop on 43% of their plays.
One thing about the numbers that jumped out at me was the breakdown by down. The Chargers were fairly mediocre on first and second down, but downright dominant on third, especially third down runs. They only allowed five third down conversions all day. The reason it seemed like more was because four of them occurred on the Giants' third drive of the game and none of them happened after that with the Chargers holding them short of the sticks on their last seven third downs.
Cooper (7), Siler (6), Phillips (5) and Weddle (4) all had big individual games as measured by tackles for stops. Nine Charger defenders prior to this week's game had recorded 4 or more stops in one game. For four of them to do so in this week's contest is impressive to say the least. Cooper's seven stop game makes him the team leader again having been tied with Phillips after last week's game.
Overall, Sunday's game was an even one until the very end and against a good team like the Giants on the road and on the opposite coast, I think that's something we should be happy about.
Individual Stops Team Leaderboard Through 8 Games: