Now, winning by one touchdown against a team that no one has pegged for the playoffs seems a little shoddy; I don't blame you for saying it's a bit of an exaggeration. Bare with me.
Instead, let's break it down through your narrator's eyes, OK?
- The San Diego Chargers' rush defense is not just "deceivingly good" anymore. Last year, it was kind of hard to see how the Chargers had an awesome defense against the run. Though the team ranked fourth in the league in ground yards allowed, we all know they allowed far too many game-breaking plays that frustrated to no end. This game, though? Not at all. Though Adrian Peterson looked like he merely didn't get enough touches on paper, he had little rhythm when he took his carries. The Chargers' linebackers plugged and shot gaps well and tackled like absolute champs. Peterson's a big guy, so you know he's going to be a pain to bring to the ground. This run defense isn't just "deceivingly good" anymore. Now, this defense against the run might be "elite."
The Chargers' offense is still unstoppable, even if they look like garbage. It was a hell of a sight to see Philip Rivers not able to connect effectively with his targets. Whether Vincent Jackson wasn't running the right routes or Rivers simply threw an errant pass, it wasn't something we are used to seeing.
That's not the Chargers' fault, entirely. The Minnesota Vikings were constantly throwing heavy pass rushes against the Chargers' offensive line. On every down, the Vikings' goal was simple -- get into the back-field and rely on the corners and safeties to be able to cover the Bolts' receivers one-on-one and negate Rivers' impact. And while that worked for the first half, the Chargers adjusted terrifyingly well and Rivers became content with constant dump-offs. The beneficiaries? Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews. Speaking of which ...
The Chargers' running backs are awesome, but in the passing game. As expected, neither Mike Tolbert nor Ryan Mathews had great games when they were handed the ball -- they only combined for 80 yards off of 24 carries (which they split). But on screens and check-downs? The two were absolutely terrific.
Both caught 12 passes for 131 yards, and though Tolbert hauled in nine of those passes (and averaged a fair six yards per catch), Mathews averaged over 24 yards per catch. Regardless, both used their respective strengths to further the Chargers' attack -- while Tolbert bounced off defenders and stumbled his way for extra yards, Mathews was elusive as hell and ran between the tackles fluidly.
Don't get hyped up on the Chargers' rushing attack -- just get hyped up on the players who are in the back-field.
The Chargers have fixed their special teams. It's a little hard to buy this one if you watched the opening kickoff -- Percy Harvin ran for a touchdown to start the game and our blood pressure shot up. But after that, the Chargers' special teams mess seemingly disappeared; the Vikings didn't get any huge yardage on returns and when it looked like a returner would shift his way towards the sidelines and into open field, a defender was normally there to stop the run in its tracks.
Good on ya, Chargers' special teams.