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Five Lessons from the Giants Game

Posted Dec 9, 2013

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

Here are five lessons we learned from Sunday’s 37-17 win over the New York Giants.

1. Turnovers Key Victory – Against an explosive offense with a receiving trio that Defensive Coordinator John Pagano said is as good as any in the league, the Bolts proved to be more effective when both units were on the field.  The Chargers forced a season-high three turnovers, including an interception by Donald Butler, a forced fumble by Reggie Walker that Marcus Gilchrist recovered and a game-sealing pick by Shareece Wright, the first of his career.  Butler said being an opportunistic defense that forces change in possessions is what makes playing the game of football fun:

“Any game you go into, that’s our key focus.  Get those turnovers.  We hadn’t done that enough in the past but this week we did and we got the ‘W’.  I was in the right place at the right time.  The ball was still up in the air and I made sure I got control of it and then it was just trying to get as far as I could go.”

2. Allen Deserves Rookie of the Year – What else does Keenan Allen have to do in order to secure the award?  He leads all rookies in receptions and yards, and set a Chargers franchise record for rookie receptions by totaling 61 to date, besting LaDainian Tomlinson’s mark of 59 set in 2001.  Allen had his first multi-touchdown game with catches of 43 yards (a career long) and four yards in the first half. Both touchdowns came on clutch third-down plays, and he became the first Chargers rookie with two touchdowns in a game since Seyi Ajirotutu in 2010. Still, to his credit, Allen says what made setting the Chargers all-time rookie receiving mark special was that it came in a win, which is all that matters to him:

“To set a franchise record meant a lot. But at the same time, if I did it and we didn’t get a ‘W’ it wouldn’t have meant anything.  So it was definitely more special to have it come in a win.”

 

3. 24 39 = A Winning Pair –The Chargers running game played a large role in the victory, as Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead have combined to form a fearsome pairing.    Mathews carried the ball a career-high 29 times for 103 yards and a touchdown while Woodhead rushed seven times for 42 yards. In the process, He increased his career total to 3,361 and moved past the late Chuck Muncie (3,309) for fifth all-time in the team annals.  In the passing game, Mathews caught three balls for 32 yards while Woodhead had a team-high four receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown. The TD was not only a dagger in the Giants heart but was his eighth of the year, setting a new career high.  He also had a highlight-reel catch in the fourth quarter, when the 5-8, 200-pounder won a jump-ball deep down field that brought the crowd to its feet.  After the game, Woodhead spoke to the effective nature of his pairing with Mathews:

"I think that is more for coaches to decide. I think our running back group as a whole tries to complement each other with all the different things we do and different roles we have. We are going to continue working and trying to get better at what we do."

 

4. Ingram, Johnson Ignite DefenseMelvin Ingram denies it, saying the team would have played with the same intensity and fire had he not returned from a torn ACL to play in the game.  But many of his teammates said seeing the outside linebacker back just seven months removed from surgery sparked the unit, including Manti Te’o:

“Having Melvin back and the energy he brings on the field definitely gave us a boost.  We were happy to have him back.”

It wasn’t just Ingram though.  The return of leader Jarret Johnson on the outside as well buoyed the team as the steady veteran is as popular as anyone in the locker room. Donald Butler said seeing “Double” back lifted the team’s spirits as well:

“Having him back was also huge.  We’ve missed him for a couple weeks, and it felt good to get us all out there.  It felt good. We were excited.  We were running around making plays.  When you do that, you can’t help but have a smile on your face.”

 

5. On to the Next Manning–After deposing Eli Manning, the Chargers are forced into a quick turnaround, heading to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Thursday night .  As satisfying as the dominating victory over the Giants was, the team knows they need to carry that momentum into Denver to take down Eli’s older brother.  While the team celebrated on Sunday, Head Coach Mike McCoy says they are ready to get back to work with a focus solely on taking down the Broncos:

“We have to get the next one. We have a short week in Denver, playing an outstanding football team. We have to go back and look at how we played against them last time. It’s a great opponent. We’re going to get in there and put a great plan together on a short week and just keep going, one day at a time and one game at a time.”

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