The Chargers hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what amounted to a must-win game for both teams Sunday and, in what has become a recurring theme, the Chargers were once again unable to finish despite having a multitude of opportunities. A mostly entertaining game finished in colossally painful fashion as Philip Rivers compounded a horrible decision by making an even worse throw when he forced a deep ball to Dontrelle Inman. No doubt about it, it was ugly.
That said, Sunday's contest wasn't all bad. Even with their playoff hopes down the drain, the Chargers had a number of positive things happen. In fact, I thought there were a handful of positive things to come out of the game. Let's take a look at the three best things to come from Sunday's contest.
#1: Melvin Gordon's 21 touches for 138 yards and a touchdown
I don't think this requires much of an explanation, but I'll provide one, anyway. It is Melvin Gordon, not Philip Rivers, who makes this offense go.
Don't believe me?
On the Chargers three scoring drives totaling 225 yards Gordon touched the ball 12 times for a whopping 95 yards and a touchdown. For those who aren't all that good with numbers, that's an average of 7.91 yards per touch. Good things happen for everyone - usually in bunches - when Melvin Gordon is the focal point of the offense.
It has been fun watching him develop into a feature back this season, I just wish I understood why he doesn't find the ball in his hands more often in this close games. (I'm sure his usage will make an appearance in the "Three Worst Things" post from this game."
#2: Casey Hayward has another big day
A quick look at the stat sheet might make you question this "good thing" (0 tackles, 0 PBU), but the stat sheet doesn't always tell the whole story, and that's the case with Casey. The best free agent signing of the Tom Telesco era shadowed the monstrous Mike Evans on Sunday, held him to 3 receptions for 38 yards and had an interception on a play which saw him jump a route and play the ball like a wide receiver.
Hayward has elevated his game in a big way in Jason Verrett's absence, turning himself into a bonafide CB1 while leading the league in interceptions. There simply aren't enough superlatives in the English language to describe the season he's had and I look forward to seeing him team with a (hopefully) healthy Verrett next season.
#3: It's finally time to #GetDownWithTheTank2
The Chargers are 5-7, they lost a must-win home game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and their playoff hopes are, for all intents and purposes, dead and buried. Why is that one of the best things? Because fans can finally stop trying to convince themselves this is a playoff team and get down the business of something that will actually benefit the franchise long-term - losing as many games as possible.
Spare me the talk of finishing strong and going 8-8 for the sake of pride, the best thing for this team is to finish as poorly as possible and secure a Top 10 pick in the 2017 NFL draft. Before you try to tell me that's a defeatist attitude or some other nonsense, let me remind you that the Chargers' last tank netted them Joey Bosa. So, yeah, it's time to #GetDownWithTheTank2.
That's it, folks, Gordon, Hayward and the tank are my three best things for this week. I'll also throw Corey Liuget and Joey Bosa courtesy mention because both played good games for a defensive front that shut down Tampa's run game and teamed up on a stunt that resulted in the team's lone sack of the game. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below...