1. 1st and Goal from the 1 yard line
Walk down the streets of San Diego today and ask the first 15 people you see who the best player on the Chargers is. You will get one of four answers, depending on who you're asking.....Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Shawne Merriman and LaDainian Tomlinson. You think I'm joking with those last two, but it's totally true.
None of those people would say Ryan Mathews or Jacob Hester. None of them would say Marcus McNeill, Kris Dielman or Nick Hardwick. Not to say that those guys aren't great players, they are, but maybe after the first two runs Norv should've just said "Philip save us!" into the radio instead of calling another run that was going nowhere.
This falls on the secondary (which played awful) and the pass-rush (which seemed to think it was playing Jason Campbell) both. Let's take a look at what happened:
Carson Palmer Stats
Pass Yds (Season Avg): 244
Pass Yds (vs SDG): 265
Yards/Attempt (Season Avg): 6.7
Yards/Attempt (vs SDG): 12.8
Completion % (Season Avg): 61%
Completion % (vs SDG): 76%
TD/INT Ratio (Season): 25/18
TD/INT Ratio (vs SDG): 4/0
QB Rating (Season): 82.7
QB Rating (vs SDG): 157.2
Sacks (Season): 25
Sacks (vs SDG): 0
Who needs receivers when the team you're playing has no interest in rushing the passer or defending downfield?
3. Tight Ends
Three Tight Ends showed up in the box score for this game, and all three found ways to hurt the Chargers.
Jermaine Gresham: 4 catches, 56 yards, 1 TD
Randy McMichael: Injured during a pass play that resulted in an interception that ended the 3rd Quarter.
Kris Wilson: Had a perfect Rivers pass, which would've resulted in one of the few big plays of the day through the air for the Chargers, bounce off of his chest at around the Bengals' 3 yard line.
4. Idiotic Wide Receivers
I get it. You make a big play and there's plenty of adrenaline still coursing through your veins. Sometimes it make you want to spike the ball or something....this is why the NFL allows it's players to spike the ball (after trying to stop it for a while). You know what you can't do?
Kelley Washington, you can't score a touchdown and then run 10 extra yards so that you can throw the ball at the Cincinnati Bengals logo. That's not celebrating, that's taunting. it also shows that your personal vendetta against the team means more to you than your current team's chance of victory.
Vincent Jackson, you can not stand up after getting tackled and punch the tackler. You are even luckier than Washington that your antics didn't get flagged, and it shows that you still do not have control of your emotions on the football field. If, at that moment, A.J. Smith had thrown his arms in the air and said "I'm sorry, but we can not trust this guy to keep a level head....I can't have him back", I would not blame him one bit. All you did in that movement is show that the opponent can get in your head to the point where you do stupid things that could hurt your own team.
5. Losing the Turnover Battle
Anyone want to take a guess how many times the Chargers have won the turnover battle this season? How many times have they finished the games with more turnovers forced with their defense than given up by their offense? I'll give you a second.
The answer is four. In 15 games, with one of the league's best defenses statistically, they have won the turnover battle just four times (JAX, ARI, @IND, SF). That's really, really sad and it's a problem. Championship defenses don't just lead the league in the least amount of yardage and big plays, they grab the momentum from their opponent regularly by forcing turnovers and big defense plays. This Chargers team seemingly hasn't done that since Wade Phillips left.