This game was played pretty much like how we picture the Chargers this season. Except, they won. First road win. First win where the opposing starting quarterback stayed in for the whole game. First win in a game that was televised in San Diego. First back-to-back wins. First win where an undrafted free agent and a backup TE caught 2 TD passes in one game. Lots of firsts.
The first half had its normal comedy of errors we are accustomed to. Three bad special teams plays to start the games (Hester's failed kickoff return, the tipped punt and an illegal block on a kickoff return). All bad plays that do not help to produce winning football and at some point somebody needs to be accountable for this.
The first half also had some interesting play calling. The first drive obviously lacked imagination with 2 runs and a pass for a 3 and out just like last week. Later, the Chargers went deep to their newfound unpronounceable star Seyi Ajirotutu for a wide open TD pass. They followed that up with a drive where they attempted a throwback pass. Sproles took the handoff, lateraled to Rivers and the QB checked down from the deep route to hit Kris Wilson on a long catch and run. That drive also resulted in a TD when Rivers threaded the needle and McMichaels held onto the scoring pass. This was all part of a first half where Rivers was near perfect throwing the ball.
Miscues were still present before halftime. First round pick Ryan Mathews fumbled again and aggravated his ankle. The Chargers defense could not tackle Arian Foster. Some of that is Foster making great moves and being his elusive self, but 99 first half yards is a lot to give up. At least there weren't any huge runs for TDs mixed in there. Norv Turner inexplicably used no timeouts in the first half. This in spite of the Texans driving for a score near halftime in a situation where they would also get the ball back after halftime. Inexcusable. If you're a coach in this league for that long you have to learn timeout strategy and Norv shows time and time again that he's clueless in that regard. The score at halftime: Chargers 14, Texans 20.
The Chargers began the second half only down by one touchdown, but a long 6:05 drive by the Texans for a field goal put them down by two. Holding the Texans to field goals felt a little bit like victories since the Bolts seemingly could get into the end zone as long as they had the offense clicking. Sure enough, that trend continued. The Chargers would score 2 TDs (on passes to the same players as the first half TDs) while that initial field goal would be all the scoring the Chargers needed.
The Chargers defense came up big when the game was on the line. After the first half some would have predicted that they'd be too tired to persevere, but that was not the case. They made a number of decent stops on Arian Foster. They forced a quick, non-scoring drive after Rivers threw an interception (including a sack-fumble by Donald Strickland). They stopped the Texans on a 4th and 1 quick snap. And the icing on the cake, a Paul Oliver interception to finish Houston off.
Not the prettiest win, but a nice send off for the bye week. Something to build on.