The San Diego Chargers outlasted the Tennessee Titans in a high scoring affair with the final being 43-35. The 43 points was the team’s highest output since 2013. This was a pivotal game for both teams as they both looked to improve and make the playoffs by season’s end. The difference in this game was the Bolts defense as they forced three turnovers despite not recording a sack. YES, THE DEFENSE WAS THE KEY IN A HIGH SCORING AFFAIR! I had to type that in caps for those of you thinking how is that possible in a shootout. This defense has been causing havoc and forcing turnovers all year, but that topic is for another day. After the win, Mike McCoy said, “A big team win. Great effort by everybody at all three phases.”
This game had a strange vibe to it, as there were a bunch of connections between these two teams. Two years ago, the Chargers were linked with the Titans in trade speculation surrounding Philip Rivers and Tennessee’s second overall pick. San Diego was rumored to be interested in a fresh start with former Heisman trophy winner Marcus Mariota. That trade never happened for whatever reason. Ken Whisenhunt was facing his old team after a few tumultuous seasons with the franchise. Dexter McCluster had a bitter ending with the Titans. In addition, Rivers once worked out with Mariota he was coming out of high school. Finally, the Chargers organization had former players in attendance trying to convince fans to vote on a new stadium this upcoming Tuesday. There was no shortage of drama surrounding this game.
The defense had a scoop-and-score by safety Dwight Lowery and a pick-6 by savvy veteran Brandon Flowers. Korey Toomer, who came over from the Raiders, a few weeks back led the front seven. He did a good job filling in for Jatavis Brown and Denzel Perryman as he and the front seven stonewalled DeMarco Murray for just 64 yards on the ground. Despite the injuries to key contributors on defense, this unit continues to perform better than the numbers might indicate. Casey Hayward intercepted another pass this week on an errant throw by Mariota. It was a quiet day for Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, but they did their part to help create the two interceptions by collapsing the pocket.
Rivers led a hot offense as they saw little to no resistance on the day. Rivers was only sacked once and was operating in a clean pocket all afternoon. He sliced and diced the Tennessee defense as he found seven different receivers for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Rivers was in tune with “Ol’ Reliable” Antonio Gates as he had five catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. Tyrell Williams had another good game as he found the end zone early in the first half. Rivers wanted to run a quicker offense this week with Mariota and the Titans hot offense in town. The Chargers ran a lot of shotgun with quick throws and underneath routes.
Melvin Gordon and the offensive line had it going today as the team rushed for 208 yards on 39 carries. Gordon had 196 yards and a touchdown, as he looked really explosive with each carry out of the backfield or in the shotgun. He was hitting his stride and even hi-stepped down the field. After every play, Gordon would pop up seemingly smiling and he had a reason to. He had over 100 yards in the first half as the only Charger running back to do so since LaDainian Tomlinson. After last week’s game, center Matt Slauson criticized the Chargers play-calling. He thought the team should be running it more because of the success they had been having. Whisenhunt and McCoy heard him loud and clear, as the game plan was simple: Get number 28 the football. Gordon finished with 261 total yards from scrimmage, which places him 15th in franchise history. Rivers spoke highly of his tailback saying he would have paid to see him run.
The Chargers are a tough matchup for any team in the NFL when they run the ball 25 times or more. Rivers is going to produce in any game, but he is better with a potent rushing attack. The evidence is in the film from 2006 to 2011. The line is giving him time to throw, but they get after it in the run game. The defense continues to create turnovers every week and with a win next week against the Miami Dolphins the Chargers will head into the bye week at .500.
Follow us on Twitter @playerinsiders @realdt_
More stories you might like