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Bolts Running Game Breaks Out in Big Way

Posted Oct 14, 2013

It was a point of emphasis all week long following a dismal display on the ground against the Oakland Raiders that saw San Diego run for just 32 yards.

The Chargers simply must establish the run.

And that they did.

The Bolts responded with their best rushing attack not only of this year, but of the past calendar year.  Grinding out 147 yards on the ground behind an efficient, mauling offensive line was the most since Week 2 of the 2012 season.

“You have to be able to run to be successful,” said Nick Hardwick.  “It opens up everything else and keeps the defense off balanced.  It opens the field up and you get a chance to wear them down.  You get a chance to be aggressive and go forward instead of going back and retreating in protection.  I mean, you can also be aggressive, but it’s a different mindset than when you’re going forward, grinding your legs, putting two bodies not one body and by the end of the fourth quarter you can really tire them out.  Then you start getting some 10 yard runs.”

Leading the way was Ryan Mathews.  He eclipsed the 100-yard plateau for the first time since December 11, 2011 with 102-yards on 22 carries.

“He ran hard and he’s been running hard all year,” Philip Rivers said after the game.  “He got dinged in Oakland and couldn’t get in the flow of that game. He ran hard.  He made some big runs.  The run he made…gosh getting some of those runs together right when you get done, but the run he made when we were backed up right there, late, when we knew we had to run it out before the very last drive, and he busted it for about 20 yards.  That was big because it was right after the penalty and we were able to get a first down, so that was huge.”

According to Head Coach Mike McCoy, games like Monday night’s are what Mathews is bred for.

“This is his style of game,” he said.  “He wants to pound the football and he’s a physical runner.  He was running the ball downhill, putting his foot in the ground, going north and south.  That’s what he loves to do.  He’s a physical, punishing runner and at the end there he finished the game.”

For the record, five Chargers ran the ball, which is technically six if counting Rivers kneel down at the end of the game.  Danny Woodhead had nine attempts for 36 yards, Ronnie Brown and Le’Ron McClain each had two carries for three yards and Eddie Royal gained four on an end-around.  While the runners were on point, averaging 4.0 yards per carry, it was all made possible due to a tremendous job by the offensive line.

“You want to reach that peak (100-yards) as often as you can,” Mathews said. “I just have to give all my thanks to the offensive line.  They did a great job tonight pushing guys out of the way and opening up the holes.  All the credit goes to them.”

McClain is also tasked with opening up holes, and he too gave props to the five linemen.

“This was big,” said the bruising fullback.  “The thing we’ve been trying to get going all year is guys getting 11-on-11, a hat on a hat…(The offensive line) were lights out.  Those guys work hard each and every day.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a walk through or a full speed practice; those guys are (going at it).  Those guys did a great job.”

Listening to the o-line after the game, the emphasis is to get the yards per carry up as high as possible, and they were pleased to average 4.0 on the day.

“We’re trying to get the rush average up as high as we can,” said Jeromey Clary.  “Last year we were at 3.6 or something like that, so we’re trying to get it up there and we need to keep fighting and hopefully by the fourth quarter we pop one.  We just tried to clamp our hands and run our feet and stay on our blocks a little bit longer after what happened last week.  We gave our guys a chance.”

At the end of the day, the offensive line was pleased with the job they did.

“We did a good job running the ball and keeping Philip up,” said D.J. Fluker. “We dominated at the point of attack.  Our coaches emphasized on that all week long after the week we had last week. If we play hard for 60 minutes like we did today, that’s the ball game.”

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