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Five Lessons from the Colts Game

Posted Oct 15, 2013

Here are your weekly five lessons from the past week's game.

Here are five lessons we learned from Monday night’s big 19-9 primetime win over the Indianapolis Colts.

1. Pound the Ground Game– Last night we noted how the San Diego Chargers placed significant emphasis on establishing the run against the Colts  after a disappointing performance last week against the Oakland Raiders.  The team responded in resounding fashion, posting their best rushing game in over a calendar year.  Behind a bruising offensive line, San Diego ran for 147 yards on 37 carries for 4.0 yards per attempt.  Leading the way was Ryan Mathews, who had 102 yards on 22 carries; his first game reaching 100-yards since 2011.  The ability to run effectively keeps the offense balanced, and as Nick Hardwick noted, pounding the ball is integral to the offense’s success:

“You have to be able to run to be successful. 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.”


2. Control the Clock, Control the Game – Among many noteworthy stats, perhaps none were as significant as the Chargers dominating time of possession.  The Bolts held the ball for 38:31, meaning the Colts had it for less than 22 minutes.  When a team pieces together long drives that end with scores, odds of winning the game improve significantly..  Not only is it imperative for the offense, it greatly aides the defense.  John Pagano’s unit was able to get rest on the sideline while making adjustments and the result was the team’s best effort to date, which we will talk about next.  In the meantime, here’s Shareece Wright speaking about the importance of controlling the clock:

“We played well when we were on the field, but there is no better defense than when we are on the sideline drinking Gatorade because our offense is out there. The coaches are able to talk to us longer and make adjustments, and it also ends up giving the other team a longer field to work with. It helps a lot.  It’s easy to play defense from the sideline.”

3. “Lights Out” Defense  –That’s how Head Coach Mike McCoy described the defense Monday night, and with good reason.  The defense was spectacular, rising to the occasion against a prolific offense.  They held one of the top rushing attacks in the NFL to a paltry 74-yards and were terrific on third down, holding a team that converted 50% of their attempts coming into the game to just 20% (2-of-10). Andrew Luck was harassed for the majority of the game, and they put the cherry on top of the win with Derek Cox’s first interception of the season to ice it.   After the game, McCoy addressed his team’s defensive effort:

“The defense played lights out the entire game. They made big plays and that’s what we’ve been emphasizing.  You all have been asking questions about turnovers.  Well, we finished the game the right away. 


4. Third Round ‘Steal’ Steals the Show–When Keenan Allen somehow fell to the third round in April, pundits around the league said the wideout from Cal was one of the steals of the draft. Just six games into his NFL career, he’s proving them right.  Allen churned out his second straight standout performance, in primetime nonetheless, coming up with key catches..  On the night he registered nine catches for 107-yards and one touchdown.  He became just the second Chargers’ rookie ever to have back-to-back 100-yard receiving games, and the first since 1960.  As such, Allen is quickly making a name for himself, and Philip Rivers says he has confidence in the rookie to come up with the big play:

“You earn that (confidence from a quarterback) as a receiver.  You develop that as a quarterback with a receiver over time. He was awesome.  I don’t know how many catches he ended up with tonight, but he was really good because they came in the game and they said they were trying to take (Antonio) Gates away.  Gradually each week, he’s becoming more and more involved.”


5. String Together Some Wins  –That’s the mantra the players and coaches have been repeating since the end of the game.  It’s great to get the win, but the team needs to rattle off a few in a row.  To date, the Bolts have alternated wins with losses, so McCoy says their sights have quickly turned to getting a second consecutive win:

“You’ve got to put two or three in a row together.  You’ve got to keep on going. The key in this game is to be more consistent and not turn the ball over on the road.  That will be a big emphasis this week. ”


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