A month of buildup and hype for the first regular season game ended in heartbreak Sunday, as the San Diego Chargers dropped their season opener to Kansas City, after leading 24-3 in the 3rd quarter. The game was as eventful as they come and we learned a few things about our team after week 1.
We will start with positives from the game. The Chargers came out on fire in the first half, scoring three touchdowns and a field goal. The Chiefs defense had absolutely no answers for what the Chargers were doing in the first half. Keenan Allen was getting the best of the matchup with CB Marcus Peters until a knee injury took him out of the game. Melvin Gordon was breaking tackles and after going scoreless as a rookie, scored his first 2 touchdowns in the NFL. Danny Woodhead was himself as usual, reeling in a touchdown and making plays in the passing and running game.
Sep 11, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) rushes for a touchdown against Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson (56) in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
The Chargers defense did a good job in the first half of holding the Chiefs to 3 points. This was made possible by the pressure that was being brought in by Brandon Mebane and the defensive line, not allowing any of Alex Smith’s plays to develop half of the time. Jason Verrett reeled in an interception to start the season off strong, and kept Jeremy Maclin quiet until a late touchdown. In the first half, the defense seemed to be disrupting whatever game plan the Chiefs had and we built a 24-3 lead because of it.
Now, on to the not-so-positive parts of this football game, and there were quite a few.
As I stated in my preview to this game, the middle of the field was gonna be a huge weakness for the Chargers defense. Through the first half, the pressure kept Smith under duress but in the 2nd half the defensive line seemed to flatten and the pressure simply wasn’t there. With time, Smith was consistently finding Travis Kelce and Spencer Ware in the middle, either getting first downs, or setting themselves up in good field position to get another first down. The tides had turned and it was now the Chargers who could not find an answer to what Kansas City was throwing at them. Manti Te’o and Dwight Lowery simply couldn’t contain the plays being thrown their way. This led to the Chiefs scoring enough points to tie the game with us and send the game into overtime where we would eventually fall on a run by Smith into the end zone.
Sep 11, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) is carted off of the field after an injury during the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
As bad as the defense seemed to be playing, the Chargers offense may have had a worse day. In the 2nd half the unthinkable happened. The absolute worst case scenario for this offense happened when Keenan Allen went down with what appears to be a non-contact knee injury. The Chargers have put no official diagnostic out but fear he may have torn his ACL. With Allen out, the Chargers scored a lone field goal (Sound Familiar?) and gave up a large lead because they simply couldn’t get it going again. Aside from Allen, it seemed as though the Chargers had given up on their offensive strategy as they kept running unsuccessfully and throwing screens that were blown up in the backfield half of the time. This is concerning for a team that has 15 games to play still, possibly without it’s star wide receiver. This was de ja vu for Chargers fans and whether Ken Whisenhunt or Mike McCoy were making those calls, they unfortunately weren’t the calls that were gonna bring the Chargers to victory. They weren’t correctly utilizing the players they still had to gain first downs, such as Antonio Gates, Tyrell Williams, and Travis Benjamin and ultimately were beat.
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The Special teams unit had a pretty rough day too. Although Josh Lambo consistently was putting balls in the back of the end zone, he missed a 54-yard field goal that would’ve given the Chargers some life, and I’m positive he wants that one back. Punter Drew Kaser had a very rough day, not punting very well at all and setting the Chiefs up for success. One punt was for only 20 yards and led to a Chiefs touchdown almost immediately after. The Chargers unit choked in the 2nd half all around and allowed a lead to slip right from out of their hands.
Whether it was 2012 against the Denver Broncos, 2013 against the Houston Texans, or 2014 against the Arizona Cardinals, the Chargers lost game 1 yet again after leading early in the game. This is not a good look for a team out to prove they belong. Now after a devastating defeat it’s time to re group and focus on building on a 27-point performance, and getting a win at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. If we learn from our mistakes early, hopefully the Chargers can prevent a loss like this from happening as often as it does.