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Lessons from Week 12
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Week 12’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens dropped the Chargers record to 4-7. Here is what we learned from Sunday’s 16-13 overtime defeat.
1. Issues Finishing Games– For the third time this season, the Chargers squandered a double digit fourth quarter lead to end up on the losing end. The issues not only reside on defense but on offense as well. It’s been obvious the defense needs to better at coming up with stops in key situations, none more so than the now infamous 4th-and-29. But the Chargers offense should take some blame as well. After Baltimore scored a touchdown to cut the score to 13-10, the Chargers immediately went three-and-out, punting the ball back to the Ravens with plenty of time on the clock. Even just a few first downs would have helped the Chargers in the waning moments of regulation. Both sides of the ball need to improve in late game situations.
2. 3rd/4th Down Struggles – On defense, getting off the field is important. Unfortunately, the Chargers struggled in that area allowing the Ravens to convert at a 50% clip (12-of-24 on 3rd down; 1-of-2 on 4th). Even worse was that the majority of those conversions occurred on crucial plays late in the game when a single stop could have made the difference between a win and a loss. And offensively it wasn’t much better as the team converted just 3-of-15 attempts on third down. The Chargers can’t miss so often on these crucial third and fourth down plays and expect to win the game.
3. Walking Wounded – The Chargers had been lucky in the injury department until Sunday’s game. The team reported nine players as injured following the game: Antwan Barnes (hamstring), Darrel Stuckey (hamstring), Atari Bigby (groin), Donald Butler (groin), Eric Weddle (concussion), Corey Liuget (tibia), Antonio Garay (thigh), Jeromey Clary (thigh) and Danario Alexander (thigh). With the majority of those injuries coming on defense, the Chargers were forced to finish the game with Andrew Gachkar at linebacker, Shareece Wright in the nickel and cornerback Marcus Gilchrist at safety. This is a lot of position shake up to experience in one game. The team will need to get healthy fast to snap their three game losing streak.
4. Disciplined Rivers – The Chargers quarterback entered the game with 18 turnovers on the season (14 interceptions and four fumbles). But for the third time this season, Rivers didn’t commit a single turnover. He played with incredible discipline under pressure enduring six sacks, and throwing the ball away on at least a half dozen occasions rather than forcing any ill-advised passes. By cutting down on turnovers, a more conservative Rivers gives the Chargers a better chance to stay in the game.
5. Pass Rush Arrives in Force – We saw their potential, but it took until Week 12 to witness the Chargers pass rush spinning on all cylinders. The team posted a season-high five sacks and a number of times forced Joe Flacco to make errant throws. Antwan Barnes led the way with a pair of sacks while Shaun Phillips moved into a tie for second place all-time in Charges history with his 67. Let’s hope the defense can build on this strong showing and give Andy Dalton the same pressured attack next week when the Chargers face the Cincinnati Bengals at home.