Here are five lessons we learned from Monday night’s 31-28 loss to the Houston Texans.1. "We’ll Learn From This"– If there was a rallying cry in the Chargers locker room following the disappointing defeat, that was it. The team was upset. They were angry. Many expressed how they were heartbroken, but nearly every player that spoke said they would learn from the loss and vowed to put it behind them. Their sentiment was best summed up by
“It’s only our first game of the year. We’ll learn from this. We’ve got 15 more games to go. It hurts for that to happen the last drive. But, we’ll turn it around. Guys are not going to be hanging their heads. Yeah, we feel bad that we lost. We definitely want to win that type of game, being up how we were. But we’ll turn it around. We’ll learn from this and we’ll get back.”
2. Third-and-Long Dooms Defense–Numerous times Defensive Coordinator John Pagano’s unit had the Texans where they wanted them in third-and-long situations. Unfortunately, the away team found a way to convert somehow, which was a dagger to the Bolts defense.
"We did terrible on third and long situations. Third-and-18 and third-and-13 kept the drive alive. If you take those away, they don’t score. We did get some stops in the end but we just didn’t make the plays necessary to win the game. We knew they were going to make a run. We were in position to make some plays. We got them into some third and long situations. You couldn’t ask for anything better. We just didn’t execute. It’s been our Achilles heel over the years. It’s something that we obviously need to work on and we’ve just got to get better as a team”
3. Finish the Game–Up 21 points, the Chargers weren’t able to finish the game out, failing to make one or two big plays that would have secured the victory. According to Head Coach Mike McCoy, his team needs to learn to make those plays and gain a finishing touch:
"We just didn’t finish it. It comes down to not finishing a football game…We didn’t make the plays when we had to. The offense, defense, third down, some things we were doing better in the first half, we didn’t do in the second half, that’s what it came down to. When you have a lead the way we had it, we’ve got to make a stop somewhere, we have to make a play offensively, just execute a little better. Somewhere, somehow, we have to do a better job moving forward.
4. Rivers on a Roll – Yes he tossed a pick-six in the fourth quarter on an athletic play by Brian Cushing, but overall,
“That’s just who Philip is. It was more of the same that we’ve always seen out of him. He’s an incredible leader and an incredible worker. He’s a heck of a football player and in the huddle he’s got a great presence about him. As an offense we love being with him. ”
5. Disciplined Execution on the Run – The Chargers run game looked quite potent in the preseason, averaging well over 100 yards per game. Monday night, it struggled as they gained only 80 yards on the ground, aided by a career-high 18-yard scramble by Philip Rivers. Overall, the Bolts ran the ball 20 times, and if you take away that one run by Rivers they gained just 62 yards. Conversely, San Diego allowed 120 yards rushing to Arian Foster and Ben Tate. While there were some positives in the way the defense played,
“We were able to make some plays, but we still gave up over a hundred yards rushing. To me, that’s a let down on the defensive end… They ran the ball a lot better (in the second half) than they did in the first half, and I think that’s what ended up hurting us the most.”