Hey, look what's back! Well, the BFTB podcast is taking a break this week (You're shocked, I know), so I figured I might as well get my Bolts & Dolts named after a great Chargers game.
Philip Rivers - 15/24, 233 yds, 4 pass TDs, 1 INT
Here's an incredible stat: After 10 games this season, El Capitan has only had 2 games in which he threw fewer than 2 touchdowns. That means in 80% of his games this season he's thrown for multiple TDs. Here's another fun stat: After getting sacked 18 times in the first 6 games of the season, Rivers has gotten sacked just 5 times in the last 4 games (and you could argue that most of those were coverage sacks). He's getting better because the offensive line is getting better.
Mike Tolbert - 25 rushes, 111 rush yards, 1 rush TD, 2 recs, 42 rec yards
When Mike Tolbert is making big offensive plays, the Chargers offense becomes about ten times more versatile. His 22 yard run and 28 yard catch from Mike Scifres took a lot of wind out of the Broncos' sails. Tolbert's Malcom Floyd-like ascension from undrafted FA that wasn't really expected to make the team, to starting FB, to back-up RB that leads the team in every rushing category, is another big feather in the cap of A.J. Smith.
Darren Sproles - 5 rushes, 14 rush yards, 5 recs, 60 rec yards, 1 rec TD
I know! I'm just as surprised as you are to see Lil' Lightning on this side of the Bolts & Dolts post. The funny thing is, members of my family have a knack for saying one thing (but you have to truly believe it) and having the complete and total opposite happen. We call it "The Gennaro Curse". So, of course after I told the guys over at Mile High Report that "Sproles is nothing to worry about and the Broncos don't need to gameplan for him", Sproles makes a huge play and makes sure to remind the Colts (who are definitely watching the tape) just who they're messing with.
Patrick Crayton - 3 recs, 105 rec yards, 1 rec TD
You know what the funny thing is about Sproles' numbers? He had 5 catches for 60 yards, including 1 for 57 yards! That means he had 4 catches for 3 yards, which means he was usually the check-down receiver. This becomes especially important when you're looking at the numbers of the Chargers' receivers and see that nobody besides Sproles and Crayton had more than 2 catches, and the 3rd leading receiver behind them was Mike Tolbert...who got more than half of his yards on a trick play. Rivers was really digging deep and spreading the ball around, but Crayton still managed to stand out as the best receiver on the field. Here's to hoping he has a speedy recovery.
Mike Scifres - 3 of 4 punts down inside opponents' 20 yard line, 1/1 with 28 passing yards
It wasn't a close playoff game, so it won't get the same kind of attention, but Scifres has struggled all year with the loss of Kassim Osgood (and others). He came through huge yesterday, not just throwing a strike to Tolbert but in nailing the Broncos deep in their own territory 3 of the 4 times he was asked to punt.
The Entire Defense - 14 points allowed
I know this might seem cruel, to not single everyone out, but there's really too many to do. Shaun Phillips played great, Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason had great games, both Kevin Burnett and Stephen Cooper player well, Eric Weddle and Paul Oliver did their jobs splendidly.....and we haven't even gotten into all the guys who had big games on the defensive line (Cam Thomas, Antonio Garay, Vaughn Martin, Ogemdi Nwagbuo).
Plain and simple, this game was won in the trenches. The Chargers offensive line pushed the Broncos around and kept them away from Rivers and Tolbert, while the defensive line kept Kyle Orton running all game. Just an excellent all around job.
Seriously, I haven't had a chance to rewatch the game on TV (and I probably won't), but watching live I can't name one Chargers player or coach that had a bad game.
Allow me to use this space to give credit to the Chargers fan. I know it was the Broncos, and MNF, but I was surprised by the crowd at this game. There weren't many Broncos fans, and they were certainly drowned out by the loud and crazy Charger fans.
Not only that, I thought if I planned to get to the game by 2:30 that the parking lot would be empty. Instead I was met with long-lines and had a hard time finding a parking spot....3 hours before kickoff! Way to represent, San Diego.