By Dave Thomas
In throttling the Buffalo Bills on Sunday 54-24, the Los Angeles Chargers made several statements.
First, the Chargers got themselves back into the AFC West race in the decisive victory. With Kansas City’s upset at the New York Giants, the former’s lead in the division fell to two games over both Los Angeles (4-6) and Oakland (4-6). Meanwhile, Denver is all but out of it at 3-7.
Second, the Chargers showed how good their offense can be when clicking on all cylinders. Most notably, wide receiver Keenan Allen was a big star on the day.
So, is this Los Angeles team ready to make a second-half push for its first playoff berth since 2013? While the playoffs for this group are from a certainty, the Chargers did show that they can be counted out when all is said and done.
Offense: A –
Even though Buffalo was horrific on defense, Los Angeles had its most impressive performance of the season to date in terms of points. Quarterback Philip Rivers finished his day going 20-of-32 for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It was Allen who had the monster day, hauling in 12 receptions for 159 yards and two scores. On the ground, Melvin Gordon rushed for 80 yards on 20 carries and one touchdown. Yes, Buffalo’s defense has now allowed 101 points in its last two games (47 to New Orleans a week ago), but Los Angeles was still downright good on this day.
Defense: A –
One could say that the Chargers had everything going in their favor heading into the contest. With Buffalo’s offense struggling the last few weeks, the Bills opted to start rookie QB Nathan Peterman. To say the University of Pittsburgh product struggled would be a major understatement. For the day, Peterman tossed five interceptions on a 6-for-14 performance for a mere 66 yards. Yes, several of the INT’s were not his fault. That said, Peterman was clearly not ready for the big show on this Southern California afternoon.
For the Chargers, Adrian Phillips had six solo tackles, with Casey Hayward snaring a pair of interceptions. Teammate Korey Toomer took his interception in for a touchdown.
Special Teams: B
It was a slow day for punter Drew Kaser, as he only had to punt twice. Kicker Nick Novak was 6-of-6 on extra points, hitting 4-of-5 field goals for the afternoon.
Coaching: A –
For rookie head coach Anthony Lynn, things could not have gone much better. Although there looked to be one “heated” exchange on the sidelines with Rivers early in the game after a drive stalled, Lynn seemed pretty pleased with how his team performed. Coming off of a disappointing loss in Jacksonville a week ago, Lynn and the Chargers needed this win in the worst way. Now, can Lynn get his team turned around in a hurry to face Dallas on Thanksgiving Day?
Up Next: Los Angeles doesn’t have much time to enjoy its victory. The Chargers are one of six teams slated to play on Thanksgiving Day, as the team will head to Texas to face the Cowboys in the middle of Thursday’s three games. Dallas, which lost at home to Philadelphia on Sunday Night Football, should offer better quarterback play in second-year starter Dak Prescott. For the all-time series, the Cowboys hold a slim 6-4 advantage, though the Chargers have won the last two meetings.