By Dave Thomas
With their first two-game winning streak of the season, the San Diego Chargers head into their bye week on a high note, this after Sunday’s 24-6 win at Jacksonville.
Coming into Sunday’s contest in northern Florida, the Bolts were looking to assert themselves against a team that entered 0-6 and was just looking to be competitive at home. In two prior home games, the Jags had scored a total of 5 points.
Yes, this was a game the Chargers all but had to have in order to at least get a sniff at an AFC wild card spot come season’s end (Kansas City and Denver both started Sunday in firm control of the AFC West at 6-0 each). At 4-3 now, the Chargers may be thinking more than just shooting for a wild card spot.
The Chargers did what was required of a team playing a much less fortunate team, getting the early lead and never truly letting the home team or its less than enthusiastic crowd get into the game.
Chargers Can Use Break to Heal Some Bodies
With their bye week this coming Sunday (Oct. 27), the Chargers get a chance to rest some of their battered and bruised bodies (offensive linemen King Dunlap and Mike Remmers were both dinged up in Sunday’s game), not to mention hopefully heal some bodies on the defensive side of the ball, most notably linebackers Jarret Johnson and Donald Butler (neither played on Sunday).
If the Bolts can carry their momentum (wins over Indianapolis and Jacksonville) into their next contest, a Nov. 3 road trip to meet the Washington Redskins, San Diego could find itself right back in the AFC West race.
Offense: B+ –
Running back Ryan Mathews had his second straight 100-yard plus game, rushing for 110 yards on 21 carries (one TD). Mathews again avoided his biggest fault—fumbling. If he can continue to give the Bolts such efforts moving forward, it takes some of the pressure off starting QB Philip Rivers (22-of-26, 285 yards, one TD, 125.2 QB rating) to have to move the team down the field through the air.
Rivers did a solid job of hitting receivers such as rookie Keenan Allen, veteran tight end Antonio Gates and the two-headed monster of Eddie Royal (one TD) and Danny Woodhead. Speaking of the latter, Woodhead continues to remind Charger fans of Darren Sproles (now with New Orleans). While he doesn’t have to burst of speed that Sproles offered when he was in San Diego, Woodhead is as gutsy a runner and receiver out of the backfield as there is around.
Lastly, San Diego’s makeshift offensive line did just enough to keep Rivers upright for most of the day (only one sack). Dunlap (reported concussion) and Remmers (ankle) both left the game due to injuries.
While Jacksonville is hardly the offensive juggernaut that is Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, the Charger ‘D’ looked pretty good on this October afternoon.
Jags QB Chad Henne finished 23-of-36 for 318 yards, but Jacksonville was limited to a pair of Josh Scobee field goals. More importantly, San Diego sacked Henne six times, with linebacker Thomas Kaiser recording a pair.
Wide receiver Justin Blackmon caught 14 passes for 190 yards in the loss to Denver, but was held to six catches on 58 yards in this latest loss.
Finally, the Jags running game could only pound out a meager 78 yards on 17 carries. From the secondary to the front line, San Diego’s defense had perhaps its best showing of the season.
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.