Ryan Mathews had another impressive game, racking up 29 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown. He had 29 carries in two consecutive weeks, totaling 58 carries in 5 days. The ground game played heavily into the Bolts' favor, as they dominated time of possession and allowed Rivers to only attempt 20 passes. Mathews already has more carries in 2013 than in any of his first 4 seasons, and has only fumbled twice. In addition, he is on pace to top his career high 1,091 yards. Mathews is having a great season thanks to a harder and more decisive running style, and has been an important weapon on the Chargers offense.
Shareece Wright followed up his best performance of the year against the Giants with another strong performance. Before the week 14 victory over the Giants, Wright only had a positive grade from Pro Football Focus once (week 1, +0.5). He had a +3.1 grade against the Broncos, giving him a +6.1 grade over the past couple of games. In a secondary littered with injuries and inconsistencies, Wright's performance is very promising.
King Dunlap is good. In fact, he is an excellent left tackle. He has missed 5 games, as well as chunks of other games, with head and neck injuries. When he has been out there, he has been by far the team's best offensive lineman. He has thrived in San Diego, as he has the second-highest run block grade according to PFF, even with 5 games missed. He has also been a strong pass protector. If he wasn't so injury prone, and if the injuries weren't so serious, the Bolts would be set with Dunlap. He needs to stay healthy next season for San Diego to contend and to get himself a big contract.
The interior offensive line was decent in pass protection, but they made Mathews work for all of his yards. Nick Hardwick, Jeromey Clary, and Chad Rinehart combined for a -7.8 run blocking grade as the Denver defensive tackles dominated up front. Who knows how many yards Mathews would have collected had his offensive line performed well.
The pass rush still isn't there. Melvin Ingram played a significant amount, but did not record a QB hit, hurry or sack. The only sack came on a very impressive blitz from safety Marcus Gilchrist. It's too late to believe that the pass rush will improve in the last couple of games, but a more healthy Melvin Ingram, a healthy Dwight Freeney, and maybe some help in the draft could make this front seven deadly
Thursday night's victory was very impressive, so there was not a whole lot of bad or ugly, but after Sunday's slate of games one thing became very ugly- the Chargers playoff hopes. The Dolphins beat the Patriots, meaning they would have to lose their final two games to the Bills and Jets. The Ravens also won, giving both them and Miami an 8-6 record. The bolts are a game behind each team without tiebreakers. It's not officially over, but it may be time to start looking forward to the Draft.