Despite injuries, Chargers offense thrives with Flash Gordon, Chargers roll to victory

Nov 6, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) runs the ball as Tennessee Titans defensive back Brice McCain (23) defends during the second half at Qualcomm Stadium. San Diego won 43-35. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 6, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) runs the ball as Tennessee Titans defensive back Brice McCain (23) defends during the second half at Qualcomm Stadium. San Diego won 43-35. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

The San Diego Chargers rocked the powder blues Sunday, taking on the Tennessee Titans at home. This was a pivotal game for the Chargers who are in desperation mode, dead last in the division, and 4-5 on the season. Early season losses have put them in a difficult spot with not much slack, and every game from here on out has implications on their post season goal.

The Chargers offense started the game firing on all cylinders, scoring on a nine play, 75-yard drive. The Chargers first drive ended with a touchdown pass to Antonio Gates, the 108th of his career. After a Josh Lambo missed extra point, the Chargers were up six. 

The Chargers defense opened up the game forcing a three-and-out. However, the Chargers offense would stall and settle for a field goal to put them up 9-0. On the Titans second drive, the Chargers defense stepped up again forcing another three-and-out. This time, the Chargers would capitalize when Melvin Gordon ripped a big run for 43 yards, and the drive was capped by a six-yard Tyrell Williams touchdown reception, putting the score at 16-0.

On the Titans third drive, the Chargers defense looked to force another punt, however in a four-down situation, the Titans elected to run it with DeMarco Murray. After the dust settled, it looked as if the Chargers defense had made the stop, but after the chains came out, the Titans barely converted. On the following play, Marcus Mariota connected with Rishard Matthews to bring the score to 16-7. During the drive, Charger fans had a scare when Joey Bosa went down grabbing at his hamstring, however he returned to the field shortly after, possibly suffering from a cramp.

At the end of the second quarter, Casey Hayward intercepted a pass intended for Delanie Walker and returned it 25 yards, putting the Chargers at the Titans 15. However, the Chargers fell short and were forced to kick a field goal, increasing their lead to 19-7. The Titans responded with an impressive seven-play, 75-yard drive late in the second quarter, capped off with another touchdown reception to Matthews, helping the Titans close in on the lead.

The Titans came out with the ball to start the second half and continued to ride their momentum, stringing together a nine play, 75-yard drive. The drive was capped off by an impressive 14-yard touchdown run, improvised by Mariota, giving the Titans the lead at 21-19.

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That lead wouldn’t last long as Philip Rivers and the offense responded on the very next drive, stringing together their own impressive 14-play, 75-yard drive, which was capped off with a one-yard Melvin Gordon rushing touchdown, giving the Chargers a 26-21 lead.

On the Titans ensuing drive, Mariota ran the option, but was hit by Korey Toomer, forcing a fumble which was recovered and returned 36-yards by Dwight Lowery for the score, building on the Chargers lead at 33-21.

The Titans would respond with an impressive seven play, 80-yard drive, and a beautiful touchdown pass threaded by Mariota to Walker, bringing it to a one possession game at 33-28.

On the Chargers next drive, Melvin Gordon came up huge, converting a 1st-and-15 and catching a screen pass for a 35-yard gain. However, on 3rd-and-7, Gordon ran a draw play up the middle and failed to convert by one yard. The Chargers elected to kick the 36-yard field-goal, extending their lead to 36-28.

On the ensuing Titans drive, Charger fans were getting nervous with their one score lead late in the fourth-quarter. But, the Chargers thin secondary came up with a huge turnover. Coming off of concussion protocol, Brandon Flowers intercepted Mariota’s pass and took it 34 yards for the score, increasing the Chargers lead to 43-28.

The Titans however would not fold, and on their following possession would muster up a 10-play, 75-yard drive. The drive would conclude with a DeMarco Murray one-yard rushing touchdown.

On the Chargers following possession, they would attempt to run down the clock with Gordon. After a couple solid runs, Gordon would go to the sidelines with an apparent ankle injury, but would return the next play to convert a 3rd-and-7, breaking off the left side for a 47-yard gain and allowing the Chargers to assume the winning formation with the final score resting at 43-35.

The Chargers showed that they are more than capable of putting up the numbers, with the help of Gordon who had a huge game with 259 all-purpose yards and a score. This offense has proved they are one of the best in the NFL. Rivers showed that, despite all the injuries, he will continue to execute at a high level regardless of who is receiving his passes. Gates had several clutch plays, and had one of his best performances of 2016, with five receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown. 

The defense played a huge role in the offense’s production, putting them in scoring position on several occasions in today’s game. The defense also proved that despite injuries, and a thinning secondary, each player is capable of making impact plays, and they must continue to play with a “next man up” mentality. 

The Chargers will host the 4-4 Miami Dolphins next week and try and improve to 5-5 on the season, while also trying to keep pace with the rest of the AFC-West.