It was nothing new as the San Diego Chargers made the trip to Tampa to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and former Charger Vincent Jackson.
This was set up to be a crucial midseason matchup with both squads entering the game 4-4 for the season with the Chargers coming off a big win and the Bucs looking for their third straight victory. It's unfortunate that the anticipation of this battle was marred by just more of the same from the Chargers. In what's become a staple for this team, there would be problems all over the field. In examining the latest failings, the spotlight has moved from individual mistakes to the team struggling to execute basic plays, calling into question leadership and overall play calling.
It was inspirational to see the team dominate the Kansas City Chiefs last week and give a moment of hope that perhaps the team was back into the groove of things. It was uninspiring; however, to see a team that was so successful on the field the week before unable again to maintain it's halftime lead. In lieu of a victory, fans were left with the disappointing feeling of Deja Vu.
The game began with the scoring excitement that has become a Chargers trademark (Cleveland's loss notwithstanding). The team flexed it's offensive muscle early, beginning with a Philip Rivers pass to Danario Alexander who scored on an 80-yard reception. The wide receiver spun out of the grasp of Leonard Johnson on San Diego's opening possession. It was a catch that Chargers Nation could be happy with and Alexander has become a huge part of the Chargers offensive arsenals. The promising receiver would end the game with 134 receiving yards to go along with that touchdown. Rivers capped off the first quarter as he threw a 13-yard TD pass to tight end Antonio Gates for a 14-7 1st quarter lead.
The special teams unit again played a crucial role in a Chargers game and not for the better.
They were not able to hold the Buccaneers at bay, as Bucs linebacker Adam Hayward would block a Mike Scifres punt and return it 29 yards for a score. That gave the Bucs a 17-14 lead that they would not relinquish.
It was a long day for Rivers. With the game still in reach in the fourth quarter, he had a pass intercepted by cornerback by Leonard Johnson. As Johnson headed down the sideline, Offensive lineman Jeromey Clary seemed powerless to stop him as he went on an 83 yard touchdown run. In what had to make Chargers fans wince, the pass was thrown as the scampering Rivers tried to go out of bounds to avoid being sacked. Of course, when you're sixth in the league in getting sacks, you can understand his need to run. Rivers would end with 2 interceptions for the game and 12 for the season, tied with Matt Cassel and rookie Brandon Weeden for second highest in the league.
It seems the only person more shocked by the pick-six pass landing in his lap was Johnson himself. How surprised you may ask? Let's just put it this way: Johnson was so surprised about the pass to him that all he could say was "It caught me by surprise."
During Norv Turners' post-game press conference with the media, the usually calm Turner had finally had enough. The question that brought Turner to a boiling point was asked by a San Diego TV reporter Turner was asked if the Chargers' 34-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was
unacceptable. Turner responded with snarkily “"What do you think?" said Turner, "You answer that question."
Fans would like to answer that question and more such as: "Norv, what will you do about the defense allowing Rivers to constantly run for his life?" "How do you plan on fixing the embarrassing special teams effort?" and "When you saw Vincent Jackson run for 31 yards on us, did you ask AJ what other brilliant moves he has planned?" All those questions and more had better be answered soon, because the Chargers next opponent is their arch-rival, the AFC West leading Denver Broncos. Tebow may be gone, but the team still seems to be running on divine intervention. These are the same Broncos (6-3) that just beat the Carolina Panthers 36-14 on their way to a four game win streak. Don't expect to be given any favors by the reinvigorated Peyton Manning, who is courting both MVP and Comeback player of the year mentions.
Who do you blame for the latest loss, Rivers, the team defense, the punter or just an overall better team in the Buccaneers. Let your voice be heard. Sound off in the comments below.
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