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Lessons From Week 16
1. “D” Brings the Heat– The Chargers pass rush struggled early on in the season, but has found its groove in recent weeks. That progress was never more evident than on Sunday when the Bolts recorded 11 sacks, tied for the most in franchise history. A mixture of young first and second-year players in addition to well established veterans combined to make it a nightmare day for first-time starter Greg McElroy. Equally impressive was the Chargers ability to sack the QB not only on blitzes, but also when defensive coordinator John Pagano brought just three or four defensive players to the passer.
2. Reyes on the Rise – Second-round defensive end Kendall Reyes saw limited action when the season began. But a combination of injuries and stronger play on his part has led to an uptick of snaps for the rookie, and he’s made the most of it. Reyes recorded the first sacks of his career in Denver in impressive fashion back in Week 11, sacking Peyton Manning twice. He outdid himself on Sunday, recording 3.5 sacks in the win against the Jets. It marked the first time since Leslie O’Neal had five QB takedowns back in 1986 that a Chargers rookie had that many sacks in a game.
3. Gates Makes History– It took Antonio Gates four games after catching his 80th career touchdown reception to tie Lance Alworth last week for the most TD receptions in franchise history (81). However, it took just two and a half quarters for the future Hall-of-Famer to net his record setting 82nd TD catch. Number 85 was emotional after making the catch, and was especially touched by the reaction of his teammates, who swarmed him moments after he crossed the end zone. While Gates is proud of the accomplishment, he hasn't failed to mention that he still has plenty left in the tank and looks forward to catching many more TDs for years to come.
4. Clean Sheet Leads to Success – For the second time in two games, the Chargers did not commit a single turnover on offense. It’s not a coincidence that in both the games they recorded a clean sheet they also netted a victory. Turnovers were the downfall of the Chargers during a pair of losing streaks in the middle of the season, but the offense has shown that when they take care of the ball, they're capable of sustaining long drives and playing winning football. That is most evident with quarterback Philip Rivers, who's efficient play on Sunday led his team to victory.
5. Make it a December to Remember– The 2012 season comes to an end after Sunday’s game vs. the Oakland Raiders. While the season as a whole will be looked at as a disappointment, the team is determined to end it on a positive note. Winning three of the final four games on the heels of a two game winning streak would be big for the team's morale as was discussed in the locker room following the win in New York. The team will put together a strong week of practice in an effort to make that a reality.