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Five Lessons from the Bengals Game
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1. Turnovers Too Much to Overcome – As pointed out yesterday, the Chargers had committed just three turnovers in six games entering the game. They turned the ball over that many times against the Bengals. The chief culprit was one of the most reliable players in the NFL, Antonio Gates, who had one fumble and another ball stripped away from him for an interception. Gates entered the season having not fumbled since 2008. The other turnover came when Keenan Allen had the ball jarred loose as he lunged for the first down marker late in the fourth quarter. Following the game, Gates lamented his inability to secure the football:
“One thing about me is that I made some plays today that are uncharacteristic of who I am and what I stand for. You have to take your hat off to that defense. They did a wonderful job in getting the ball out. To me, I have to play better to give us a better chance to win.”
2. Ten Points Not Enough – The Chargers offense has been pretty prolific this season, but against the Bengals they mustered just 10 points, their lowest total in a game this season. In addition to the aforementioned turnovers, they were forced to punt too many times with drives stalling once they crossed midfield. San Diego’s defense forced two turnovers, but the offense was only able to cash them in for three points. Philip Rivers spoke about how scoring just 10 points is unacceptable:
“When you play against a good defense like that you can’t score ten points and win in this league very often. I thought our defense gave us plenty of opportunities, but as an offense, you score ten points, I bet the percentage of winning is not very high. That’s what it came down to. Obviously the turnovers did hurt us, but we still had some opportunities.”
3. Run D Never Got Rolling - The Bengals ran for 164 yards against the Bolts defense, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Many of those yards came in obvious rushing situations that the Chargers just couldn’t stop. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran for 92 yards while rookie Giovanni Bernard chipped in with 57. At the end of the game with the Chargers
“We’ve got to toughen up in that situation when we know they’re going to run the ball. If they’ve got run formation in, we’ve just got to stop them.”
4. Youngsters Continue Being Playmakers – Ladarius Green scored his second touchdown in two games, this one on a perfectly drawn up play-action fake up the seam to the second year tight end. Manti Te'o had one of his best games staying in the middle of the action, many times making big stops along with one pass broken up. And despite a fumble, Keenan Allen once again topped 100 yards receiving with 106 on eight catches. Still, despite their individual successes, as Allen explained, the focus is on the shortcomings of the team as a whole:
"It comes down to execution. We are just not executing properly…I think it was more what we did, three turnovers, one of which was mine. That definitely cannot happen, especially when we are this close to our season ending. We definitely have to come out and play our best game. We just need to execute better and try to score.”
5. Still Got to Stick It Out –Despite the loss, the Chargers still have four games to go, three of which are at home. As always, they plan on watching the film on Monday before coming back for a strong week of practice focused on getting ready to host the New York Giants on Sunday. Wright explained they will let the chips fall where they may if they are able to string together a few wins in a row:
“We’ve got three more home games. We’ve got to go to Denver and take care of them and win out. We’ve been thinking that for the past two weeks. It’s nothing new with this loss; we’ve just got to stick it out.”
As Nick Hardwick explained, that starts Sunday with the Giants, which is their only focus for the time being:
“We’re looking forward to fighting for one another and getting after it. The New York Giants are coming to town and we’re looking forward to it. This is what it’s all about. It’s about sticking together and fighting together and protecting the guys next to you. That’s football.”
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