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Season in numbers
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SAN DIEGO – Whether they end in splendor or disappointment, each season leaves a unique footprint filled with interesting circumstances.
Here are some of the highs and lows that defined San Diego’s 2011 season as we glimpse at some statistics.
• Philip Rivers threw for 4,624 yards, sixth in the NFL. He also ranked seventh in completion percentage (62.9).
• Rivers became the fifth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,500 yards in back-to-back seasons, the third to throw for 4,000 yards in four straight seasons and the sixth to throw for at least 25 touchdowns in four straight seasons.
• Rivers averaged 8.0 yards per pass and did not lead the league in that category for the first time since 2007. Sid Luckman (5) and Steve Young (4) are the only players to do so in more consecutive seasons.
• Rivers threw a career high 20 interceptions but also completed a team-record 366 passes.
• The 21 combined receiving touchdowns by Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd are the most ever by those three players in a single season.
• San Diego had a quarterback throw for more than 4,000 yards (Rivers), a receiver with more than 1,000 yards (Jackson) and a running back with more than 1,000 yards (Ryan Mathews) in the same season for the third time in franchise history.
• Gates led the team with 64 receptions despite missing three games due to a foot injury. He also passed Charlie Joiner as the team’s all-time leading receiver.
• Mathews and Mike Tolbert each caught at least 50 passes, the first time two backs on the same team have accomplished that feat in franchise history. They finished second in the NFL to New Orleans for receptions by a running back duo.
• Mathews produced four 100-yard rushing games, most by a Chargers running back in the regular season since ’07. The Chargers’ 1,864 rushing yards also were the most by the team since ’07.
• Mathews ranked seventh in the NFL with 1,546 yards from scrimmage, 10th in the NFL with 1,091 rushing yards and seventh in yards per carry with 4.9 (which also placed him sixth in team annals).
• Tolbert (10) led the team in touchdowns for the second consecutive year and has 21 since shifting to running back in 2010.
• Floyd had the second-best season ever by an NFL receiver according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric (Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average), which measures average efficiency and productivity (the data only goes back to 1992).
• Though injuries limited him to eight starts, Floyd averaged an astounding 12.2 yards per target and 19.9 yards per catch, best in the league for players with at least five receptions. Forty-one of his 43 catches went for first downs or touchdowns (95.3 percent), best in the NFL this season. Nearly one quarter of his 43 catches went for 25 yards or more.
• Jackson fell just short of a career high in receiving yards (1,106), but he did tie a career high with nine touchdown catches, posting his third 1,000-yard season in four years.
• The Chargers lost just eight fumbles, in line with the team’s average from 2007-09. San Diego lost 16 fumbles in 2010.
• The Chargers’ defense allowed just eight rushing touchdowns, tied for fewest allowed by the team in a season since 1965.
• Eight different players intercepted at least one pass as the defense combined for 17 picks, second-most in the last seven years (’07).
• The defense allowed just 14.6 points per game in wins (excluding defensive or special teams touchdowns) compared with 32.5 in losses. The defense also allowed more than 100 fewer yards per game in wins.
• San Diego finished 32nd in the NFL in third-down defense (49.2 percent conversion rate) and tied for 30th in fumbles forced and recovered (four).
• Eric Weddle tied for the NFL team lead with seven interceptions. The first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection allowed just one touchdown and held opposing quarterbacks to a 25.8 quarterback rating on throws his direction, the lowest of any defensive back in the NFL.
• Antwan Barnes entered the season with 9.5 career sacks in four NFL seasons. He led the Chargers with 11 sacks, becoming the first player not named Shaun/Shawne to top the team’s list since Steve Foley in 2004.
• Shaun Phillips missed four games with a foot injury, which had an effect – he still led the team with 13 pressures, but finished with a career-low 3.5 sacks after making at least seven in each of the last six seasons.
• Though technically not a rookie, Donald Butler entered 2011 without as much as one NFL preseason game of experience after an Achilles injury early in training camp of his initial season. Butler made 102 tackles, most by a Chargers player in his first NFL season, the most since Billy Ray Smith and Mike Green in 1983.
• Butler also led the team with 10 tackles for loss and was the only defensive player with a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He also scored one of two defensive touchdowns for the Chargers.
• Takeo Spikes finished with 119 tackles, most on the team, and started all 16 games in his 14th NFL season. Spikes now claims 11 seasons with at least 100 tackles.
• Antoine Cason placed 10th in the NFL with 17 passes defensed during his second year as a starting cornerback after finishing ninth in 2010.
• Mike Scifres averaged a career-best 47.5 yards on 47 punts, sixth in the NFL but three attempts shy of qualifying to break his own team record.
• Scifres punted at least once in his first 108 NFL games, then did not have to punt during a Week 15 win against Baltimore. Scifres again did not punt in a Week 17 win at Oakland behind another dominating offensive performance.
• Scifres made his first and only NFL field goal attempt and handled kickoffs after Nate Kaeding tore his ACL on the season’s opening kickoff.
• Nick Novak, signed before Week 2 to replace Kaeding, did not attempt a field goal until Sept. 25, but made his first 12 attempts and finished the season 27 of 34.
• Novak set team records for makes of at least 40 and 50 yards (12 and four).
• Richard Goodman finished fourth in the NFL in kickoff return average (27.5), aided by his team-record 105-yard touchdown return against Oakland in the season finale.
• Mike Tolbert made nine special teams tackles during a two-game stretch late in the season.
• Ten players finished the season on Reserve-Injured, including six starters and four Pro Bowlers.
• Eleven different offensive linemen started for the Chargers, while 13 played. The team went into training camp with 15 and cut down to eight before the start of the season.
• Six different Chargers players caught at least 30 passes for the first time since 1985. Four players caught at least 50 passes for just the third time in franchise history (’84 and ’05).
• With eight wins, the Chargers have eight consecutive seasons with at least a .500 record.
• Head Coach Norv Turner’s 49 regular-season wins are the second-most in team history during a five-year span, besting the mark set in 1977-81 under Don Coryell (48). Only the Chargers’ run from 2004-08, of which Turner coached two seasons, was better. The Chargers’ 49 wins since ’07 are tied for 6th in the NFL with Atlanta and the New York Giants. Only New England, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, New Orleans and Indianapolis have won more since Turner became head coach.
• San Diego lost six consecutive games during the middle of the season but rebounded to win four of its last five. Those six defeats were decided by a total of just 37 points.
• San Diego was the only NFL team to win three consecutive games (Dec. 5-18) by at least 20 points while also scoring at least 34 in each of the victories (New England was the only other team to come close).
• The Chargers are the first team in NFL history to average more than 25 points per game in seven straight seasons (2004-10).
• San Diego scored on its first possession in seven consecutive games after failing to do so until Week 7.
• The Chargers scored 406 points, 5th in the NFL, and allowed 377 for a net of plus-29, the only positive margin in the AFC West (Oakland was second at minus 74).
• The Chargers outscored opponents 116-67 in the third quarter and have a net of plus-125 in the quarter the last two seasons.
•San Diego went 7-2 with a halftime lead, 4-0 with a positive turnover margin and 6-1 when opponents scored less than 20 points. Read