Continuing to build upon their impressive streak of wins, the San Diego Chargers beat the Dallas Cowboys in an exciting back-and-forth battle of wills, and now sit at 10 wins, 3 losses. The Bolts are riding high, opening eyes across the NFL landscape as they appear to be growing into world beaters. In the playoff hunt and in control of the division, the Chargers are making it known each week that they can play with anyone.
(Photo Credit: Mike Nowak/San Diego Chargers)
DEFENSE PLAYS BEST WITH BACKS TO THE WALL
Often criticized for giving up too many yards, the real story of the Chargers defense is that they keep plays in front of them and don't allow big plays down the field.
In fact, the Chargers defense allows the 3rd fewest big plays (plays of 25 yards or more) in the AFC. They only allow 19.9 points per game, often forcing team to kick field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. The Chargers have been doing a better job of blitzing different guys and generating pressure on the Quarterback, and they play stoutly near the goal line.
“Any time you can get down there and keep a team from getting in the end zone, it’s unbelievable,” Norv Turner said. “Our guys take great pride in it. It’s a collective group that has a mindset that they’re going to stop them but there’s got to be individuals that step up and make those plays.”
In Dallas, the Chargers defense made crucial plays at pivotal times. The linebackers played a big role in stopping the Cowboys down near the goal line, and they brought pressure on the quarterback from the edges and from the inside. Brandon Siler in particular played excellent football and was an impact player, notching a sack and some QB hurries.
The Secondary saw contributions from a number of players. Kevin Ellison, Paul Oliver, and Steve Gregory all tied the team lead with 6 tackles each. Coverage units played solidly, not allowing Jason Witten or Miles Austin to gain 100 yards, both of whom have passed the century mark in each of the teams previous two games.
The Chargers have allowed 21+ points in only 5 games this season (only 3 of which they lost). Coaches and players will tell you, if you can keep a team to 21 or fewer points, you give yourself a strong chance to win games. The Chargers have done just that.
CHARGERS THE HIGHEST SCORING TEAM IN THE AFC
The Chargers continue to light up the scoreboard as Norv Turner dials up creative plays in which to attack the opposing team's weakness. He'll call for a deep pass if he thinks he can catch the defense off guard.
Philip Rivers remains in the mix for MVP candidacy, but while he might be the most deserving (the Chargers have the 2nd worst rushing offense in the entire league), he'll unfortunately not receive the consideration he deserves, as bigger name QBs such as Farve, Manning, and Brees take the spotlight.
Rivers has done an excellent job finding the open man, not forcing plays, and taking what the defense gives him. Luckily for Rivers, he is surrounded by talent, which makes it tough for defenses to key in and try to take a guy away.
“We’ve got super competitive guys but very unselfish guys,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “They have been a couple weeks where Gates has been hot. Then today they were jamming him like crazy to try not to let him get the ball. Vincent was able to make some big plays. He was huge.”
Even though the Chargers have not gotten the production out of Ladainain Tomlinson that they are used to getting, they nonetheless are able to score points. As frustrating as it might be to the fans, the Chargers have found a way to win games without a ground game, and that's just fine with LT, so long as they keep putting up W's.
“If we’re winning, it doesn’t matter how many yards I get,” says Tomlinson. “At this point, I’m missing a championship, and this is the best team I’ve been on as far as being able to get that done.”
If the Chargers can get past the Cincinnati Bengals this week, they'll win their 11th game of the season and will clinch a playoff spot, putting themselves that much closer to attaining the ultimate prize, a Super Bowl victory.
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