By Dave Thomas
If there was ever an opportunity for a letdown after a season-opening victory in Oakland less than a week earlier, the San Diego Chargers sure hid it well Sunday afternoon.
Playing in their home opener on a day the franchise retired linebacking great Junior Seau’s number 55 jersey, the Bolts rolled to an impressive 38-10 win over the visiting Tennessee Titans.
Winning The Games San Diego Is Supposed To Win
While the Bolts are off to a 2-0 start, some skeptics may look at the first pair of wins and note that the opponents are a combined 0-4 after two weeks. They may also note that both the Raiders and Titans were not picked very highly in the AFC polls going into the season. Yes, while the naysayers may jump on those two facts, the fact is San Diego (2-0) is doing pretty darn well for itself after the first two weeks.
As any sports “expert” will tell you, in order to be a potential championship contender as the season winds along, you need to beat the teams you are supposed to beat along the way.
In looking at San Diego’s schedule for the opening month, there is no reason the Bolts can’t finish 4-0 when September winds up with a road date at Kansas City (Sept. 30). While the Atlanta Falcons will bring a strong offensive attack to San Diego this coming Sunday (Sept. 23) to test the Chargers, again, that is a winnable game.
In the meantime, if you rewind the tape from Sunday’s thrashing of the Titans, here are some thoughts to take away:
With tight end Antonio Gates nursing a rib injury, and a running game still minus starting back Ryan Mathews (recovering from broken clavicle), reserve tight end Dante Rosario stole the show. Rosario, a sixth-year product out of Oregon, hauled in three TD passes (11, 4, 15 yards) from QB Philip Rivers. While not a career day by any means, Rivers was 24-of-32 for 282 yards, with one interception to go with the three scoring strikes. Meantime, backup running back Jackie Battle scored on a pair of one-yard runs in the fourth quarter. The one red flag that should be thrown out in the win was the offensive line, which allowed Rivers to be sacked four times, while being pressured on a number of other occasions. Certainly a matter of concern a season ago when Rivers tossed a career-high 20 INTs. The Chargers need to better protect their most valuable player. Still, San Diego managed 27 first downs on this late summer afternoon, while having a more than two-to-one edge in total time of possession (43:39 to 16:21).
San Diego’s defensive play kept Locker on the run for much of the day, holding him to 15-of-30 for 174 yards, one TD, and an interception. Eric Weddle had the interception, while Antoine Cason, Atari Bigby and Demorrio Williams each had four tackles. The Titans were limited to only eight first downs on the afternoon and a paltry 38 net yards rushing. For the second week in a row, star RB Chris Johnson was kept in check, running for only 17 yards on eight carries. Given Tennessee has been held to 23 points in its two losses to New England and San Diego, will the Titans think about giving Locker some down time and going with veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck when they face Detroit next week?
Unlike the debacle that was Oakland’s special teams unit last Monday evening, Tennessee at least averted such disaster in this contest. Meanwhile, Nate Kaeding hit one field goal and was a perfect 5-of-5 on extra point attempts. With San Diego’s defense keeping the pressure on Locker and Co. most of the day, Tennessee was forced into seven punts.
As noted earlier, San Diego won a game it was favored to win, something that will go a long way in determining whether or not the Bolts break their two-year playoff snide. Both Gates and Mathews could play in next Sunday’s matchup with Atlanta, but this game showed that the Chargers have some very capable reserves ready and waiting to play. While not a reserve, wide receiver Malcom Floyd had a very productive day, hauling in six passes for 109 yards. Given a strange quirk in the 2012 schedule, after hosting Atlanta this coming Sunday, the Chargers do not have another home Sunday game until Thanksgiving weekend versus Baltimore (Nov. 25). San Diego will host rival Denver on Monday, Oct. 15, in an ESPN televised contest, then host rival Kansas City in a Thursday night NFL Network game on Nov. 1.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Chargers news, see CBS Sports LosAngeles.
Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.