In a game that had many Chargers reaching for the Tums within the first 10-seconds, the home team eventually turned their slow start into a 24-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The Chargers’ season opener began with a continuation of poor special teams play from last season, but saw a defense heat up throughout the game and ultimately neutralize the Vikings’ offense in the second half.
Here is the BOLTHYPE breakdown of the good and the bad, the hypes and gripes of the Chargers win:
In the Chargers running back by committee, Tolbert and Ryan Mathews had a chance to shine. But with three touchdowns and a couple of steamrolling runs for extra yards, Tolbert was the offensive star of the game.
With Nate Kaeding hurt, Scifres stepped in to handle kicking duties and did an admirable job. Scifres’ first kickoff was a knuckle ball that was driven to the end zone for a touchback, and he was perfect on his single field goal attempt and on all three extra point attempts.
The Vikings never looked like a team that could run up the score, but they looked tough early behind Adrian Peterson’s ability to break tackles. As the Chargers’ defense stiffened, they held AP in check while limiting Donovan McNabb to just 39-yards passing, and only 26-yards of total offense as a team in the second half.
This was easily not a perfect game by Rivers, who missed on more than a couple of passes that could have broken the game open. But to his credit, he was under intense pressure, especially in the first half. While his pocket continued to collapse, he hung in there to complete 33 of 48 passes for 335 yards and two touchdowns. I’m a firm believer that Rivers’ pocket awareness makes his offensive line look much better than it really is.
The offensive line was offensive far too often. To the Vikings’ credit, they blitzed like Germans attacking soft European defenses in 1940. But the Chargers' line had trouble even handling the more conventional four-man pass rush at times, which led to a rocky start by the Chargers offense. This unit is living off of 2006-2007 hype, in a league where all that matters is how you perform today.
With a fat new contract comes increased expectations. Weddle is a solid safety, and the Chargers needed him more than he needed the them in the offseason, but if you are paid like one of the top safeties in the league, you need to perform like one. Watching Weddle continue to get run over by running backs does little to instill confidence in his ability to defend the run well.
Chargers fans may be getting what they’ve asked for: Nate Kaeding and Luis Castillo were both injured Sunday and may be out for the year. The loss of Kaeding may help the Chargers in the playoffs, but during the regular season no kicker has been better. As for Castillo, it seems like some injury for #93 is inevitable, which is too bad because the Chargers roster depth does not favor the defensive line. It never fails: key injuries plague the Chargers every year in the first game of the season. How about scheduling a week one bye next season?
Chargers fans have to be happy with the week-one win, even after a rocky start to the game. But was Sunday’s win enough to exorcise the demons of previous slow-starting seasons?
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