The Los Angeles Chargers were able to win in dramatic fashion on Sunday, defeating the Oakland Raiders in Oakland for the first time since 2014.
It’s been a long time coming, but the Chargers have a winning streak! For the first time since almost exactly a year ago, October 23, 2016, the Chargers have won consecutive games. The Chargers still have a long way to go in terms of climbing out of the hole they put themselves in at the beginning of the season, but it’s all about the one-game-at-a-time approach at this point. They won a gritty game in Oakland where I really liked a lot of what I saw.
1. Anthony Lynn’s 4th-down call was massive
4th-and-goal from the half-yard line, the Chargers had a decision on their hands. Bring out Nick Novak to try a chip shot field goal, or let Melvin Gordon try to run it in behind Derek Watt for si. It ended up being a huge turning point in the game for the Chargers, as Gordon caught some great air as he leaped into the end zone for the touchdown. Say what you will about Anthony Lynn’s play calling in the first few games, but credit is due where credit is due. I’m not so sure that’s a decision Mike McCoy makes last year, but it paid off big time for the Chargers, as the final drive for the Chargers is much different if they need a go-ahead touchdown as opposed to a go-ahead field goal from 32 yards out.
2. More touches for Gordon=Wins
Stat of the day: 60 of Gordon’s 127 touches this season have come in the last two games. I don’t believe that Gordon getting more touches and winning more often is coincidental. He’s developing into an elite all-around back for the Chargers, as he can run the rock and catch it. Next week will be a test against Denver’s defense, which has stuffed runners all season. But if we limit costly turnovers like we did this week, I believe Gordon can have a great game (Look at what the Giants did to them Sunday night with Orleans Darkwa).
3. Henry has the biggest game of his career
Hunter Henry caught five balls for 90 yards which is now his career high for yards in a game. Specifically, he had two massive catches on the Chargers’ game-winning drive of 34 and 23 yards. Henry does seem to be getting more looks in the offense as well. He’s just so athletic and with so many mouths to feed on offense, the defense is stretched out by the Chargers’ receivers, which allows players like Henry and Gordon to get open.
With Antonio Gates coming to the end of his career soon, Henry has established himself firmly in the role of heir apparent. I’m very excited to see how he can continue to develop this season, but even more excited to see what he can do in future seasons when he’s firmly in the number 1 spot on the depth chart.
4. We have to be able to capitalize on turnovers
The Chargers have to be able to capitalize on the opponent’s turnovers. Derek Carr threw an interception to start the game and then later on tossed another interception to Hayes Pullard. The Chargers were not able to capitalize on either turnover to score, which made the game much closer. They really should’ve scored on the Trevor Williams interception too, considering they had it deep in Oakland territory to start the drive.
You have to be able to score in this league when you catch the other team off guard. The Chargers weren’t able to do that Sunday, and made the game much harder for themselves. Luckily, it didn’t cost them the game this time.
5. The defense played very well-except for the Patterson TD
I really like what I saw out of the defense this week, as it was able to get stops on third down, force Carr interceptions, and contain Marshawn Lynch. But man was I infuriated when we gave up such a crucial touchdown to Cordarrelle Patterson. On a 47-yard rush to the house, the Chargers struggled with tackling again in bringing down a runner. They Chargers have struggled with missed tackles all season, but this really brought the problem to the forefront.
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This is another one of those “luckily it didn’t cost us the game” moments, but it was a huge, sloppy play that could’ve had disastrous consequences. It just is really weird to see the defense play at such an elite level sometimes, but miss open-field tackles. Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and the D-Line got pressure Sunday, and the defense intercepted him twice, but we really have to limit some of these crucial mistakes.
The Chargers played a good enough game against the Raiders to win at the buzzer. Gordon and Henry were huge on offense. Philip Rivers didn’t commit any costly turnovers, and Lynn coached well. The missed tackles and opportunities still make me angry, especially when the team plays well in every other facet of the game.
Next week, we play Denver at home, which is another massive divisional game. We also try to keep the winning streak alive. Getting to 3-4 after an 0-4 start would be massive for this team, and it would prove they’ve finally broken through. Denver’s also coming off a tough loss to a (previously) winless New York Giants team on national television. If the Chargers keep playing like they’re playing and limit crucial mistakes and turnovers, I can see them getting the W.