Well, just as we predicted, the San Diego Chargers can not win games with their defense. It's simply not very good.
While the Chargers defense forced a few three-and-outs from the Oakland Raiders in the second half of Sunday's game, their disastrous first half doomed the team from the start.
Philip Rivers was not perfect. Despite throwing for 411 yards, and 2 touchdowns, he played a part in turning the ball over three times (including once in the end zone at the end of the fourth quarter). San Diego turned the ball over once more, when Eddie Royal failed to cleanly catch a punt. Oakland scored 14 points off of turnovers in this game, while the Chargers failed to force a single turnover from the Raiders.
Early in the third quarter, when the Chargers were trying to come back from a 17-0 Raiders lead, Philip Rivers threw a touchdown pass to Keenan Allen. Seriously, he did...just look.
Unfortunately, the NFL Network didn't have any camera angles that were quite as good as K.C. Alfred's angle, so the touchdown was reversed and the Chargers settled for a field goal. Shortly thereafter, Danny Woodhead fumbled the ball and Charles Woodson ran it back for a Raiders touchdown. The score was 24-3. All hope was lost. And then....
D.J. Fluker had had enough. He and Jeromey Clary picked up Sio Moore and choke-slammed him as if they were The Undertaker and Kane. If they were going down, they were leaving some bruised bodies in their wake.
That, it seems, is when everything changed. The offense finally got things going, coming within 7 points of the Raiders with ten minutes left to go in the game, and the defense was shutting the Raiders down consistently until....
|3rd and 4 at SD 49
|(Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short right to J.Stewart to SD 45 for 4 yards. PENALTY on OAK-M.Rivera, Offensive Pass Interference, 10 yards, enforced at SD 49 - No Play.
|3rd and 14 at OAK 41
|(Shotgun) T.Pryor pass deep right to B.Butler to SD 39 for 20 yards (D.Cox).
That was all it took. The pass would've made it 4th-and-inches, and Mike McCoy decided to take the penalty yards and force Terrelle Pryor to beat his defense on 3rd-and-14. It should've been their fourth consecutive three-and-out. Instead, Pryor escaped the pass rush and made a wobbly pass to Brice Butler 20 yards down the sideline for the first down.
That play put the Raiders in field goal position, and they went up by 10 points with roughly four minutes left in the game. It was the most crucial third down of the game and, as per usual, the Chargers were unable to stop it.
This was a tough loss to a division foe, but it's not entirely unexpected. The Chargers need to play perfect on offense to win in 2013, and they were without two starting offensive linemen, both starting wide receivers, and their stating running back (after Ryan Mathews left with a concussion). Philip Rivers obviously wasn't comfortable, the offense was obviously short-handed, and the Raiders took advantage of the game being played at their home field in front of their own fans. All San Diego can do is hope to learn from this loss and get better in the future....oh, and realize that Charlie Whitehurst is not a suitable replacement for Terrelle Pryor in practice.
In eight days, Mike McCoy and his team will once again have a chance to shock the world when they welcome the 4-1 Indianapolis Colts to Qualcomm Stadium.