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Five Lessons from the Raiders Game

Posted Dec 23, 2013

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

Here are five lessons we learned from Sunday’s 26-13 win over the Oakland Raiders.

1. The Best Football of the Year– While others may have written the San Diego Chargers off, the team never lost faith in itself and is playing its best football of the season.  All three phases are contributing to victories as the Bolts have now won three in a row and four of the last five.  As such, they are still alive for the final spot in the playoffs entering the final regular season game of the year, and that’s exactly how Head Coach Mike McCoy likes it:

“This is what it’s all about. This is what we’re in the business for. And you tell the players all the time, ‘Big-time players make big plays in big games’. We have a big game coming up and we have to play our best game of the year. It’s all or nothing. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s the same thing. You just have to play it and see what happens.”

2. Weddle is a Weapon – The defensive captain has a knack for making a big play, and he made one of the nicest, and most important, plays by the Chargers all season against the Oakland Raiders.  Following the second turnover by the offense and with the team trailing 7-3, he dropped into coverage as Matt McGloin went to throw.  Weddle jumped high and deflected the ball with his outstretched left hand.  As he dove full extension to the ground, he batted it back to himself as he hit the turf.  A couple plays later, Ryan Mathews found pay dirt to give the Chargers a lead.  As McCoy said, it was a pivotal play by a pivotal player:

“It’s great for the offense to get a sudden touchdown. You get seven points there and it’s a game of field position. I think that when you get a turnover like that, the offense is going to feed off of it and they did a nice job of getting into the end zone. That was big for our football team at that point in time.”


 

3. Mathews Still Rolling –He may have fallen one yard short of his third consecutive 100-yard rushing day of the year and league leading sixth on the season, but Ryan Mathews continues to have a major impact for the Chargers.  He got the Bolts on the board with the team’s first touchdown on the day, a powerful, spinning seven-yard run into the end zone. McCoy gave Mathews a game ball in the locker room following the win for setting a new career-high for yards in a season with 1,111 to date.  Philip Rivers has handed the ball off to Mathews his entire career, and the quarterback spoke glowingly about the running back after the game:

“It’s been great.  He’s been very consistent all year.  He’s had some unfortunate injuries.  I’m just saying the obvious because I know what he’s been worn out about.  The fumbles over the years, those happen with young running backs. But I think more than anything he’s had the tough injuries to deal with.  You can’t help when you break your collarbone twice, both of them…the thumbs.  Those are just tough luck, and he’s battled through and had a heck of a year.  He’s fought like crazy all year, and he’s had a heck of a year.  The running game in the last few weeks and all year long, our balance, has been a big key to our success.”

 

4. Nick’s Got the KnackNick Novak has had a special year kicking the football, and he came through clutch once again with four field goals on the day.  He is now 32-of-35, with really one true miss as two were blocked.  Novak is tied for second all-time for field goals in a season and is just two away from tying John Carney for most ever by a Charger.  Equally impressive, he is also now 11-for-11 on kicks of 40-yards or longer.  With so much success, Rivers marveled at the type of weapon Novak has proven to be:

“Nick’s an offensive weapon. When Nick’s on the field, he scores points. Much like a receiver or running back, seriously, when he’s been on the field, like you said it’s consistently almost every time, we’ve scored points…When you have a kicker that’s valuable like Nick is, it’s a huge weapon for you. Yes, you want to score touchdowns and yes, you want to be aggressive, but there’s a time when it’s touchdown-checkdown, and let’s make sure we get to three. Let’s give him a chance to get to come out here and get to three. He was again clutch today.”

5. Turnovers Almost Spell Doom–The Chargers almost shot themselves in the foot with a sloppy first half in regards to ball security.  There was a miscommunication on a snap, an underthrown ball by Rivers and a muffed punt by Keenan Allen.  Luckily, the defense was able to bail the offense out on the latter two. Weddle came up with his big interception and then after Allen’s blunder, the defense held strong at the goal line limiting the damage to just three points.  Cleaning up the turnovers and getting a couple of their own was key to getting the win according to McCoy:

“To start out, the first half wasn’t pretty with the turnovers early on. There were some unforced errors and mistakes by us in certain situations. It stopped us in moving the ball down the field offensively. A couple of those turnovers in plus territory really hurt us. But the great thing is that we responded. The defense did a nice job all game long. They got after the quarterback and created some pressure.”

 

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