Dec 7, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) is sacked by New England Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins (91) during the first quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Well, I can’t say I didn’t see this coming. I already had this penciled in as a loss before the season began. The Chargers just can’t seem to beat Brady lately. The Patriots are a well-coached team, with a very talented quarterback. They play dirty as heck, but the Chargers had plenty of opportunities to win this game. Things seemed to be going well, until Donald Brown got Mike Scifres killed by totally whiffing on a block on a punt. Nick Novak stepped in, but took a minute to put some distance on his punts. I was really impressed how he handled the punting duties. This could have easily turned into a blowout, had he not performed as well as he did. Unfortunately, this meant that the Chargers were operating out of their own end a lot, and they could not get their offense into a rhythm.
There were a lot of things that contributed to the offensive problems in this game. The center position is a really weak spot in the offensive line, and teams now know that. Partner that up with rest of the line playing below average, and it was a recipe for Rivers being under pressure all night. The Patriots covered our receivers well the entire game. Revis completely shut down Keenan Allen. Floyd, Gates, and Royal had little success, and nobody seemed to be able to get open. Ladarius Green looked to be heating up until Brandon Browner took him out with a helmet to helmet hit, which sent Green to the locker room dazed. The running game was a total non-factor today. Mathews had a few nice runs, but then left the game (yet again) with an injury he sustained after he got a leg whip from a Patriots defender. Oliver was no help at all, and Donald Brown didn’t come up big either.
The defense played admirably, and held Tom Brady in check for most of the night. The problem was that they could only do it for so long. I’m actually surprised they kept Brady from lighting up the scoreboard. The Chargers offense could not sustain a drive whatsoever, and the defense barely had time to catch their breaths. If the situation ever arises again, I have faith that the Chargers could beat the Patriots. This offensive line just needs to keep Rivers from constantly being under so much pressure. We’ve all seen what happens when Rivers takes too many hits, and gets the jitters. This offensive line has sustained major injuries, but it is a shell of what it was last season, which was only average. Chris Watt MUST get up to speed quickly.
The Chargers are still holding onto the last wild card spot, but host Denver next weekend. The good news is that the Dolphins, Browns, Bills, Bengals, and Chiefs all lost today. The only teams that won were the Steelers, and the Ravens. We hold the tie-breaker over the Ravens, but the Chargers need to find a way to beat Denver next Sunday. The playoff race is heating up, and they could find themselves on the outside looking in, even with a 10-6 record. The Chiefs & 49ers don’t look quite as threatening as they did a few weeks ago, but they are both road games. A win against the Broncos would certainly give the Chargers some breathing room, so we will have to hope the defense plays as well as it did today, and the offense stops sputtering. Philip Rivers can’t go 20 of 33 for 189 yards and only one touchdown, if they want to beat Denver. Going scoreless for 3 out of 4 quarters is simply unacceptable. Especially when your defense gave you chance after chance. Frank Reich, Mike McCoy, Coach Joe D, and Philip Rivers need to figure out a solution fast.
So, we will have to keep an eye on the injury status of Mike Scifres, Ladarius Green, Corey Liuget, Marcus Gilchrist, and …. Once again… Ryan Mathews. Hopefully, the injuries are not very serious, and they can play next weekend. They will need every player healthy when they face the Broncos.