By Danny Cox
Alright, so the San Diego Chargers are eliminated from the NFL playoffs and dealing with a ton of injuries. Yes, the New York Jets were already out of the playoffs too, and that meant the Chargers couldn’t even play the role of spoiler to help knock the green machine of the postseason. That doesn’t mean Sunday’s game wasn’t one they could enjoy though. There wasn’t much by way of offense for the Chargers, but it didn’t really matter because all they needed was a defensive showing unlike any they’ve had all season.
Norv Turner can pretty much count the minutes until he is pushed out of San Diego, along with general manager A.J. Smith, but it seems like he wants to go out with a bang. Again, Turner didn’t call much of a game as far as offense goes, but the need for it just wasn’t there. Turner did focus his team’s attention on new Jets’ starter Greg McElroy.
Chargers defensive end Corey Liuget pointed out what his coach wanted them to do.
“The game plan was definitely was to get pressure on him, sack him and make him nervous,” Liuget said, “and make them want to run the ball.”
Well, that worked perfectly and it allowed the Chargers to pretty much do as they please and not have to do a lot to stay ahead. Grade: B-
Despite their defense playing so well, the Chargers were still outgained in total yards by the Jets 225-223. Philip Rivers accounted for most of that with 165 yards passing and two touchdowns, but the good news is that he didn’t throw an interception. Actually, San Diego didn’t commit a single turnover the entire game.
Rivers was sacked four times though, but that has become quite commonplace this season. The Chargers just can’t seem to keep their quarterback off of the ground, and a great number of injuries to the offensive line don’t help that matter any.
The running game is also suffering a lot of injuries, and that is why it only amounted to a mere 87 yards, but still helped out just enough. Grade: B-
This is where the Chargers excelled on Sunday against the Jets, and it also can be boiled down to 11 sacks. That number actually comes up one short of a single-game record set by the New York Giants back in 2011. A few teams have had 11 before, but no matter how many other teams have done it in the past, the Chargers just did an overly impressive job at attacking the Jets’ offensive line and Greg McElroy.
As a matter of fact, coach Norv Turner gave out game balls to each Charger that sacked McElroy. That includes Kendall Reyes who had 3.5 sacks, Shaun Phillips with 2.5, and Corey Liuget with two. Four other Chargers joined in on the fun of taking McElroy to the ground.
“A lot of those sacks weren’t where they beat a guy quick and went,” Turner said. “It was guys staying relentless and staying after the quarterback. You’re playing a young quarterback. You’d like to be able to pressure him and disrupt it.” Grade: A+
The Chargers persevered in yet another aspect of their game against the Jets, and it was in big part to great kicking and some nifty moves. Nick Novak hit all three of his extra points and both field goals he attempted. The topper is that one of those field goals was a 51-yarder in the second quarter.
Michael Spurlock helped start things off though as he returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown before the game was even two minutes old. His quick feet helped him amass 107 yards on four punts returns and 66 yards on four kickoff returns.
Punter Mike Scifres helped keep the stagnant Jets offense at bay with six punts for a 42.0 average. That includes a long of 56 and two punts landing inside the Jets’ 20-yard line. Grade: A
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.