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Bolts Offense Motivated for Rematch vs. Raiders
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Turn on the game tape from the Chargers first meeting with the Oakland Raiders back in Week 5 and you more than likely are seeing the worst performance by the team’s dynamic offense all season.
The Bolts turned the ball over a season-high five times. One third of Philip Rivers’ interceptions on the season occurred on that night as the Raiders picked the quarterback off three times. Addressing this week’s upcoming rematch against the Raiders, Head Coach Mike McCoy said the turnovers the offense committed the first time around were the main factor leading to their 27-17 loss - the largest margin of defeat in a game this season.
“Number one, we can’t turn the ball over the way we did,” he said. “That’s the number one thing that came out of that game. But give them credit. They played a good game and they played better than we played that day and that’s the profession we’re in. So we’ve got to do a better job of not turning the ball over.”
Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt agreed turnovers played a pivotal role in the loss, but added that there were more deficiencies on offense that day.
“I don’t think that we played well when we played against them last time,” he said. “They outplayed us. They were physical and we didn’t run the ball as well as we would have liked to run. We didn’t get points in the red zone twice, which you can’t do. We turned it over. So (there) a lot of things that we’ve got to do better this week.”
In addition to protecting the football, the team must do a better job establishing the run. The first time these two teams met, Ryan Mathews injured his hamstring in the first half and did not return. As a result, San Diego rushed for just 36 yards, their fewest on the season. Now, Mathews is running as well as any back in the league. He has set career-highs in rushing attempts the last two games, has eclipsed the 100-yard plateau a season-high five times and is over the 1,000 yard mark for the second time in his career. Nick Hardwick as blocked for many great backs during his years as the Chargers center and he has been impressed by the way Mathews has been running as of late.
“I think he is just being very decisive,” he said. “He knows where he wants to get and he is getting there in a hurry. He is running downhill. The kid is an incredible athlete. He is built like a block of granite. He is a pretty intense specimen, so when he gets going downhill, he is inflicting some pain on these linebackers and safeties. Toward the end of the game, when we can start leaning on people, if we have the ability to run over the course of the game, guys don’t want to hit him so much. He is starting to get a couple extra yards at the end of all those runs. He is doing a great job just being clear in his cuts and very decisive in making one and sticking with it.”
Meanwhile, the Raiders defense is a prideful unit, and Philip Rivers figures they will be extra motivated after giving up an uncharacteristic 56 points to a fellow division rival last week, the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It is a physical group,” said the quarterback. “Their linebackers are very smart. (Kevin) Burnett was here, (Nick) Roach was here. It's a smart group. Lamarr Houston is a heck of a pass rusher. They have an experienced secondary in a lot of ways. They have some youth, but they have a lot of experience in the secondary. You think about (Charles) Woodson and (Mike) Jenkins and (Tracy) Porter. There is a lot of experience. Obviously you see Kansas City and they scored 56 points. (Jamaal) Charles had some big plays and things like that. This league is a week to week deal. If you just went off stats and what happened the previous week, we would be wrong a lot of the times. What happens the next week doesn't always hold up in this league. It's a new week, new team and new opponent. It's not the same team we played week five and we are going to have to play a heck of a lot better to win than we did the first time." Read