Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers is congratulated by sailors following the game against the Baltimore Ravens. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Philip Rivers - 17/23, 270 yds, 1 TD
I think I said this last week, but Rivers finished 2010 with 9 games where he posted a QB rating above 100. 9 out of his 16 games in that season were somewhere around "great". Going into the Monday Night Football matchup with the Jaguars, Rivers had posted just 1 "great" game all year (against the Dolphins). He's now had 3 consecutive games with a 100+ QB rating (his longest streak in 2010 was 4 games) and has quieted down any fears that he might have some long-term issue.
Ryan Mathews - 26 carries, 90 rush yards, 2 catches, 19 rec yds, 2 TDs
I think Norv Turner and Ryan Mathews both deserve a lot of credit for what happened last night. After an early fumble (recovered by Jared Gaither), I expected Norv to do what he's done in the past: make Mathews the back-up for the rest of the game behind Mike Tolbert. Instead, Norv kept giving the ball to Mathews (who wasn't having an exceptionally good day running) and "Bam Bam" responded with 2 TDs and a strong finish. That's great trust by Norv and a good sign of maturity and mental toughness from the Chargers starting RB.
Malcom Floyd - 5 catches, 96 yds, 1 TD
Malcom might be the best WR in football when he's 100% healthy. Unfortunately, the reason nobody was offering him a halfway decent contract this offseason is that he's not often healthy. When he is, as he has been for the last few games, he is a pleasure to watch and I'm sure just-as-fun to throw the ball too.
Antwan Barnes - 6 tackles, 4 sacks
I believe this was Antwan's first game against the Ravens, the team that drafted him, and he made sure they remember his name. After Travis LaBoy went down with an early injury, Barnes took over as the every-down OLB opposite Shaun Phillips and terrorized Joe Flacco all night. Most of the other sacks accumulated by the Chargers were a result of Flacco stepping up, to get away from Barnes, and right into the arms of the San Diego defensive line.
Shaun Phillips - 6 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 INT
I felt like I had to choose here between 95 and Takeo Spikes (who had a great runback after an easy interception), or maybe Eric Weddle (who seemed to be two steps ahead of the Ravens' passing game all night), but I went with Shaun. If the Chargers can ever get to a place where they trust Barnes to be the starter and an every down OLB, this defense wouldn't be too different from the ones with Merriman opposite Phillips. Once Barnes started attacking Flacco and demanding more attention, it opened up Phillips to do all of the things he does well (rush the passer, drop back and pick off a pass, block off any outside runs) and show the world that he might be the most well-rounded Linebacker in the NFL.