Well, hey, that was fun. Just as I had quietly predicted all week long, the younger, healthier, hungrier team went into Denver and got a complete win over the Broncos.
Philip Rivers played well, but wasn't actually the most important part of this impressive win for the San Diego Chargers. That distinction will be fought out between:
- Ryan Mathews, who got 30(!) touches just 4 days after getting 32(!) touches against the New York Giants. He wound up with 128 rushing yards, including a 23 yard touchdown, for his 5th 100+ yard rushing game of the season. That ties him for the most 100+ yard rushing games this season with Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy.
- Keenan Allen, who has caught 4 touchdown passes in the last 2 games. Not only has he become the #1 playmaker in this offense, he has quickly become Philip Rivers' favorite target on crucial downs and in the red zone.
- Vincent Brown, coming out of nowhere for 3 huge catches (on 3 targets) for 54 receiving yards.
- The defense. Going up against the best offense in the league, and the best QB in the league, the defense made up of duct tape and broken parts was able to hold them to just 20 points. The Broncos didn't score a single point in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
Pick your favorite, or just mark this up as a "team win". My guess is that the game ball will go to an exhausted Ryan Mathews, who also went over 1,000 rushing yards for the 2nd time in his career.
Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the 2013 Chargers moved to a 6-0 record when Mathews and Danny Woodhead combine for 30 or more total touches between them.
I'd hate for the Chargers to have to face the Broncos on full-rest, or in a game that Denver needed to win, but I'll root for it to happen because that means that San Diego somehow got lucky enough to make it into the 2013 NFL Playoffs, which is still a possibility after tonight's win.
I'll be back with Bolts & Dolts tomorrow. As for tonight, kiss your loved ones and sleep with a big smile on your face, for the Chargers have handed Peyton Manning his first division loss as a member of the AFC West.