The Chargers showed up for all full sixty minutes and Sunday night and came away with a sound victory. The offense didn't convert everything in the red zone, but still came away with 30 points. This game was the mirror image of last week, where the Bolts really were dominant on both sides of the line. Couple that with a Denver loss and the Chargers control their fate again; if they win out they don't need any help to take the division. With a road game against the Bill's, then the ultimate road game to jolly old England against the Saints the Chargers have some tough games ahead.
Quarterback - A
After two sub-par games, Rivers was really on his game. He was hitting short and long passes with authority. He was without one of his favorite targets, but didn't miss a beat with Malcolm Floyd doing an excellent job filling in; this team is deep with talented receivers. He ended the night 18/27, 3 TDs and no interceptions and a robust 141 QB rating. The team really took advantage of Deltha O'Neal's height deficit. Rivers set the tone early completing a bomb to Vincent Jackson; they ended up settling for three, but you could see they were going to move the ball.
Receivers - A
I can remember one dropped pass by Vincent Jackson, but apart from that Jackson and Floyd were terrific; I was surprised that we didn't see Buster or Legedu more. That first bomb to Jackson was up for grabs, and Jackson took it down; he is really turning into a dominant receiver.
Tight Ends - B
Gates had four catches for 35 yards and the TD. Despite that he was not integral to the game, I have to think that his toe still limits him to some extent. One encouraging thing about this game is that neither LT nor Gates had fantastic games, and yet the offense was really humming right along. We have come a long way from the beginning of last year in this regard.
Running Backs - C
There were two plays where LT looked like himself; one went for 11 yards, the other for 29. Even with those his average was only 3.7 yards; and ahead in the score the team wasn't really able to put out a power run game to run down the clock. One thing I did enjoy was Tolbert smashing up the middle for space when we were trapped near our own end zone. It won't show as a lot of yards in the box score, but it set up another huge bomb to Vincent Jackson that really took the wind out of New England's sails.
Offensive Line - B+
They were lights out pass blocking giving Rivers all kinds of time to let those deep pass patterns develop and not allowing a single sack. I can't even recall any hurries. That said, I think some of the weak running game has to get hung on them. There were several times when they opened up nice holes and LT had good gains, but not often enough.
Defensive Line - A
Jamal Williams. This game was emphatically won after the Patriots drove to the Bolt two yard line. They went for it four times and came away empty. Jamal Williams was just blowing their center back three to four yards and completely disrupting the play. He dominated the center of the line and was just all over the field the entire night; you knew those statements saying they had been out physicalled had him fired up. One play he was somehow seven yards down field when Sammy Morris bounced off him like he was a brick wall; amazing. Louis Castillo was penetrating and providing pressure too; Olshanksy also chipped in with a sack.
Linebackers - B-
Dobbins started over Wilhelm; and there was a more aggressive feel. Having Cooper back really seems to help. The opening drive of the second half, New England did use the spread offense and pretty much moved at will down to the two. In that drive Wilhelm missed a tackle and Cromartie just got run over by Morris. Cooper and Harris both came up with sacks, and in general the group put good pressure on Cassel all night long.
Safeties - A
Did the safeties make a mistake? I didn't see it, Weddle came back with 11 tackles after putting up 11 last week. I've been pretty tough on him, but he was terrific last night I thought. Hart saw less action, but seemed like he was really hitting hard; and the tight ends didn't burn us up this week.
Cornerbacks - B
Jammer absolutely owned one of the best receivers in the NFL. There was a big pass play that he just punched right out of Mosses hands, leading to an incomplete. Several others he just blocked away; and one he picked. He isn't flashy, but he shuts down receivers; three tackles, five PDs and one pick. Cromartie on the other side was mostly good, but clearly would have been victimized several times by a more accurate QB. He also just gun run over by Morris on one play, hardly even slowing him down. Was NE throwing away from him?