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LA Chargers: Keys to holding lead and beating Buccaneers in second half

TAMPA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 04: Justin Herbert #10 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs for yardage during the second quarter of a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 04, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 04: Justin Herbert #10 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs for yardage during the second quarter of a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 04, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
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The LA Chargers head into halftime with a 24-14 lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The LA Chargers came out of the gate firing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and head into halftime with a lead because of it. After a pretty bad first defensive drive from the Bolts, the game completely flipped and the Chargers took control.

It started with a 53-yard bomb from Justin Herbert to Tyron Johnson. Then, on defense, Michael Davis made arguably the most important play of the first half for the Chargers, intercepting Tom Brady for a pick-six.

If Davis does not make that pick-six then who knows how the half would have transpired. Tampa Bay was in scoring range and that pick-six could have served as a 14-point swing.

Herbert threw a fantastic ball to Donald Parham to make it 21-7 and the defense has been really solid in this game outside of that first drive.

It has not been all positive, though. Joshua Kelley made a terrible mistake as the half was coming to an end and fumbled in Tampa Bay territory, allowing the Bucs to score their second touchdown of the half. This came after Austin Ekeler had to leave the game early with a hamstring injury that looks a bit too serious for the Chargers’ liking.

LA Chargers’ keys to holding the lead:

1. Continue to milk the clock

The LA Chargers’ main goal in the second half should be to put together long drives that at least result in three points. Typically, I hate the idea of playing not to lose instead of to win, but it has become clear that the Chargers can slowly pick apart this defense if they continue the solid playcalling.

A 10-point lead is not a lot, and certainly is much closer than a 17-point laed, but the Chargers can continue doing what they are doing to hold that lead. They get the ball first after the half and if they can put together a long scoring drive then I really like their chances of winning this game.

The Chargers only have 12 minutes of possession time in this game but they showed on their touchdown drive that they can get down the field and milk 6-10 minutes off the clock.

2. Don’t make dumb mistakes

This is obvious. Not much needs to be said here. No turnovers. No fumbling in Tampa Bay territory when you are just trying to get to halftime with a 17-point lead. No being the Chargers.

3. Continue bringing pressure to Tom Brady

Tom Brady has not been good in this game, at all. If he did not get that last-minute touchdown pass then his line in the first half would look atrocious. He has completed 15 of 29 attempts for 106 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Brady has not been sacked in this game but the pressure has been getting there and forcing Brady to be uncomfortable. He has been rushing things out of the pocket and it has shown. After that first drive, the Bucs really weren’t able to get any of their designed routes open downfield because of the pressure in Brady’s face.

4. Continue closing out on the ball-carrier

This has been the most impressive part of the defensive efforts to me. The Bucs have really been getting Ronald Jones involved in this game and the LA Chargers have been fantastic in picking him up behind the line of scrimmage and getting to the ball-carrier.

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Jones had a really good first drive and is averaging 6.7 yards per carry on the ground. However, the Bolts have really stifled him in the passing game. He has caught five of eight targets for only 12 yards.

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