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Mathews, Woodhead a Formidable Duo
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Danny Woodhead has heard the voices outside the locker room calling the Chargers a finesse team. These days, he just tunes out the noise.
"I know how we run the ball,” Woodhead said. “I know what we're capable of doing when we run the ball."
The rest of the league should be clued into what Woodhead knows after today. The Bolts proved they can turn to the run at any moment -- even when the defense is expecting it -- and still find positive gains.
It was never more evident than at 10:45 left in the third quarter, when the offense took the field after a Philip Rivers fumble helped the Giants score their first touchdown of the day. In response, they mounted a drive that, according to Giants safety Antrel Rolle, punched his team in the mouth.
It began with five straight bruising runs by Ryan Mathews. The first one went off tackle for no gain. But power teams don't disown the run after it's stopped; the Chargers went right back to Mathews four more times in a row.
Those four runs went into the teeth of the Giants defense, between the tackles and right by their formidable defensive linemen. Each carry ended the only way Mathews knows how, churning his feet and fighting for more yards.
Mathews ended the game with a career-high 29 carries and the recognition of his head coach after the game. When McCoy replaced his lead back with his do-it-all ballcarrier on the Bolts' signature drive of the day, the play calling never wavered.
Woodhead entered and immediately toted the ball three more times.
"That's what we're going to do," Woodhead said. "We're going to try to move the ball by whatever means possible, and today that meant running the ball."
Even when Rivers dropped back to throw, the run wasn't far behind. Rivers drew a pass-interference penalty with an end zone pass on the next play, but looked at his blockers and knew they were eager to run block again.
"It's a good front (we ran against)," said Rivers. "We know we've stopped ourselves down in that red zone."
There was no stopping the Bolts rushing attack -- both all afternoon, and on the drive. McCoy went right back to the run with Mathews on three more grinding rushes. He was stopped on the goal line twice and knocked through the door on the third.
Then, he jogged over for a helmet-slap from McCoy, who was happy to answer a turnover with points.
"It says a lot about the character of the team," McCoy said after the game. "It says 'Don't blink, just keep on playing…We're going to keep pounding it. If they can't stop the run, then (we'll) keep running it." Read