Dec 7, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) during a third quarter stop in play for a video review against the New England Patriots at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
The Chargers lost a lackluster game to the New England Patriots on national TV last night, 23-14. Despite a sputtering offense and a progressively tiring defense, the Chargers led for the majority of the game. The Bolts took the lead just a few minutes into the 2nd quarter and did not relinquish it until 10:34 left in the 4th quarter. However, they are still in the thick of the playoff race. Here are the grades I feel each aspect of the Chargers’ team deserves after falling to 8-5.
Philip Rivers made a few bad decisions, threw an interception and was also sacked 4 times. The offensive line looked overwhelmed at the Patriots pass rush. The epitome of the offensive line’s night was Jamie Collins making the Bolts’ replacement center, Chris Watt look silly on his way to a sack. They looked confused and not ready to handle the veteran pass rush of the Patriots. The run game was nearly non-existent. That is one constant we have seen in every Chargers loss this year, a shaky run game. Ryan Mathews only had 44 yards rushing. The Chargers averaged 3.1 yards per attempt but seem to abandon the run at times.
I give them a higher rating than some may think they deserve because they played well, then seemed to grow tired of constantly being on the field as the game winded down. The Patriots had the ball 9 more minutes than San Diego. The Chargers had trouble with Rob Gronkowski at times. Eric Weddle made some good plays on him but he is a great tight end that wore San Diego’s pass defense out towards the end of the game. Tom Brady threw for 317 yards. They averaged 5.4 yards per play. Manti Te’o got his first career interception, which thwarted a late 1st half drive of the Patriots. Darrell Stuckey made a heads-up play, returning a fumble for a TD to put the Bolts up 14-3. The offense did the Chargers’ defense no favors in the 2nd half, allowing the Patriots to find a rhythm, and that usually spells trouble with Brady at the helm.
Special Teams: C+
Poor blocking and lack of execution caused Mike Scifres to get obliterated on a punt that may end his season. He has been one of the better punters in the NFL. I give props to Nick Novak who booted a 51 yard punt and averaged 40 yards in his absence. The Chargers’ return game was nearly non-existent as Keenan Allen was smothered each time he tried to return a punt. Good punting kept the Patriots’ offense at bay a few times, which may have prevented this game from being more one-sided.
I give them a “C” for lack of adjustments on offense. It was apparent after the Chargers’ first touchdown drive that the Patriots made an adjustment and it worked. Football is a game of adjustments and adjusting to the adjustments. It seemed as if the Chargers kept hoping what plays got them that first touchdown would work again somehow. Mike McCoy was flat-out out-coached by Brian Belichick. Was that expected? Perhaps. Belichick is now 50-7 in the month of December. The Chargers needed to make more 2nd half adjustments offensively, but if they made any, they didn’t work. The Bolts did not have a drive more than 30 yards in the 2nd half.
The Chargers are still clinging to the last playoff spot in the AFC with 3 games to go. They will need to play much better if they want to remain in the picture, as they play the Broncos, 49ers and Chiefs to finish the season.