Flip the calendar from September to October and wake up the sleeping Giant! The Chargers dreary September woes continued this season, but we have now moved on to the month of October. It is time for the Chargers to show the rest of the NFL that they are a force to be messed with. The Chargers dominated the Arizona Cardinals Sunday in their first game of the new month. The Cards are not a good team this year, even though they came into the game with a 2-1 record. This is the NFL though, and any given Sunday, any team can come out with a victory (Jaguars over Colts). The Chargers handles their business and will look forward to the next challenge of the Oakland Raiders.
The Offense was running on all cylinders scoring 4 TDs. Antonio Gates passed the 500 reception mark as a tight end and seemed wide open all game long. He caught 7 passes for a total of 144 yards and 2 TDs. The offense picked apart the Cardinal defense all game long. The offensive line protected Rivers, only allowing 1 sack, and opened up big holes for the running backs. Mike Tolbert finished with his first 100 yard game of his career. Tank Tolbert was breaking off bug chinks of yards the whole game and suprised defenders with his shiftiness as a big man. He finished with 100 yards and a TD. Ryan Mathews was able to return to the lineup this week and added his first TD of his career.
The Defense has another great performance and was led by Shaun Phillips. Phillips finished the game with 4 sacks and an interception return for a TD. There is a good chance that Phillips takes home defensive player of the week honors. Phillips should no longer be called “The Other Guy” or “the other Shawne” as he has been performing at a high level all season long while Shawne Merriman has spent a lot of the time rehabilitating from injures. The defense finished with a total of 9 sacks and were constantly harassing the Cardinal QBs in the backfield. They finished with 3 takeaways total. They stuffed the Arizona Cardinal offense for 44 yards rushing and 77 yards passing.
The Special Teams coverage was emphasized all week and was something all the fans wanted to see improvement. The Chargers gave up 2 TDs last week and 3 total this season from coverage units. They were able to stop the Cardinals from any big returns, the longest return was 26 yards. Quinton Teal, who was signed just this week, led the team with 3 special teams tackles. The units looked like they were swarming to the ball and they were determined to improve in the coverage this week.
Even after a dominating performance, there are things that can be worked on. Darren Sproles has struggled this season and has not been able to add a spark to the offense yet. We have not been able to get him in open space this season and he added another fumble to his stat line that was returned for a TD. His fumble for a TD tied the game at 7. Nate Kaeding missed a 38 yard field goal and there is still a question how he will perform in pressure situations. Kaeding also sent a kickoff out of bounds to allow the Cardinals to start the drive at the 40. The Chargers also were 2 of 3 in red zone opportunities and would like to capitalize EVERY time they get the ball down in that territory.
Overall, the team dominated a team that they should have dominated. They did what they were supposed to do and need to continue their strong showing consistently. The offense is explosive and the the defense is much improved from last year and can force turnovers. The Bolts look to bring the heat next week with a division battle in Oakland against the Raiders. The games are always hard fought, but the Bolts want to prove their presence in the division.