Week 14’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers improved the Chargers record to 5-8. Here is what we learned from Sunday’s 34-24 victory.
1. No Quit– Coming into the game with a 4-8 record, it would seem difficult for the Chargers to muster up the motivation to play in a place that is extremely difficult to win. But that’s exactly what this team did. Showing a tremendous amount of heart, the Chargers were well prepared to come out and win this game. As a result, they captured their first ever regular season win in Pittsburgh and scored the most points in Pittsburgh in team history.
2.Given Time, Rivers Rolls – Philip Rivers’ numbers weren’t eye-popping, throwing for 200 yards on 21 of 41 passes. But the Chargers QB was efficient, tossing for three touchdown passes and not a single turnover. A major attributing factor for his success was the protection he got from his offensive line. We witnessed why Rivers is an elite quarterback in this league.
3.Next Man Up Steps Up– Across the board, a number of backups stepped up and played a significant role in the win. Besides the obvious trio of Kevin Haslam, Reggie Wells and Rex Hadnot on the offensive line, there was Micheal Spurlock tying for the team lead with seven catches out of the slot and Bront Bird recording an interception and a team-high six tackles. The entire team stepped up to play a complete game as a unit.
4. Balance on Offense – A game after their pass-to-run ration was out of whack with just nine rushing attempts, the Chargers offense returned to being balanced. In fact, Ryan Mathews had as many attempts in the first quarter alone as he had in the entire game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Overall, the Bolts had 42 passes and 36 runs. Even though they only averaged 2.6 yards per carry, they kept the Steelers top ranked defense off-kilter, and as a result, scored the most points they ever have in Pittsburgh (although one of these touchdowns was defensive).
5. Field Position Makes a Difference– He’s been dealing with a nagging leg injury for most of the season, but based on the way he’s played, you’d never know Mike Scifres has been battling any sort of ailment. The punter has been tremendous, averaging 48.8 yards per kick on the season. Yesterday, he set the defense up in positions to succeed by pinning the Steelers deep in their own territory on five of his seven punts. Scifres is making a strong case to be sent to Hawaii as the punter for the AFC Pro Bowl squad.