Take a look through the best photos from Week 12's matchup versus the Texans.
Here is a six-pack of the top lessons learned from the 21-13 win over the Houston Texans.
1. Tops in Turnovers – Turnovers are game changers, and no defense is better at forcing them than the San Diego Chargers as they are the only team to record one in every game this season. The Bolts lead the league with 14 interceptions, and their 23 total takeaways are one shy of Kansas City for most in the NFL. All four turnovers the Chargers forced on Sunday came at pivotal moments. Casey Hayward’s league leading sixth pick may have been his most impressive this year from a physical standpoint. It also came right after San Diego’s game-tying touchdown, and led to Tyrell William’s go-ahead score. Dwight Lowery’s forced fumble occurred deep in Chargers territory and his pick came in the fourth quarter with the Texans scrambling to make it a game. Finally, Dexter McCoil’s interception of Brock Osweiler’s Hail Mary attempt sealed the win. Turnovers are always a focal point, and Head Coach Mike McCoy is pleased with the way his defense has forced them this season:
“That’s been something our defense has done an outstanding job with. I believe we had 19 coming in to this game, so they’ve done a great job creating turnovers. That’s something we talk about all offseason long (and) training camp, but this year, during the season, we’ve done a great job of doing that. We’ve made the most of our opportunities of getting those picks today when we needed them.”
2.* Rivers Rebounds *– Philip Rivers headed into the bye week off the worst quarter of his career after throwing four interceptions, including the game deciding pick six, in the final 15 minutes of action vs. the Dolphins in Week 10. Number 17 rebounded in resounding fashion against the Texans. Rivers finished 22 of 30 for 242 yards, three touchdowns and one interception for a 116.3 passer rating. His first half was nearly perfect as his only incompletions were two throwaways and one dropped pass. Rivers explained how it was unfamiliar territory for him having to rebound from a game in which he felt responsible for losing with those four fourth quarter interceptions:
“This is big for us playing a division leader and sitting at 4-6. We knew this was a huge game. I liked our mentality all week. We had a great mentality all week long coming back from the bye week and a terrible loss in a game where I threw four picks in the 4th quarter. We weren’t in uncharted territory being 4-6, but for me, I was. Losing a game like that. We came back with a good mentality. Playing a division leader, we were fired up about that. We had a good frame of mind and we played with confidence on both sides of the ball.”
3. A Monster Game from Joey Bosa – Joey Bosa has made a strong impression during his rookie year, but his performance in Houston may have been his best yet. The defensive end was a terror against the run and the pass, making a living in the Texans’ backfield. Bosa finished with seven total tackles, two tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, two QB hits and had almost doubt digit QB pressures. While most focus on his ability to get after the quarterback, he made Sunday a living hell for Lamar Miller with a number of tackles including two for a loss (minus two and minus five). Being the perfectionist that he is, Bosa focused on the plays he and his teammates left on the field despite his monster performance:
“It’s a bummer. When we pull out a win like this, our job as a D-line is to affect the quarterback. I think we did. We did a really good job of affecting him today. He got out of the pocket more than a few times. We just got to work on finishing. We know it’s there. We are getting to the quarterback; we just have to get him to the ground… I think if we finished the opportunities that we had today, it would be zero points on the board. Always room for improvement, and I’m happy that our defense was playing well and actually getting there. It’s not like we were getting locked at the line.”
4. Dontrelle’s Dependability – Although Dontrelle Inman finished one yard shy of his personal best, it’s safe to say Sunday was the top game of the wide receiver’s career. It’s likely the Bolts don’t leave Houston with the win without the play of number 15. Inman caught all six passes thrown his way for 119 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown. He had a clutch 11-yard reception on 3rd-and-10, and his improvisational 25-yard catch one play later set the stage for Hunter Henry’s TD. After the game, Rivers heaped the highest possible praise on Inman, explaining how he can always count on him:
“As a quarterback and as a coach, if you want one quality for a player, you want them to have dependability. Dontrelle is a good player. He makes plays, runs good routes (and) does those things, (but) the main thing, is he is dependable. You can count on him to run the right route, to play any position (and) to do his job every day. That is what we thought we were getting when we got him from Canada. (Former Offensive Coordinator) Frank (Reich) had talked to the coach he played for in Canada and he said, ‘If I had 41, or however big their roster is, Dontrelles, I would have a heck of a team.’ He had a heck of a day.”
5. Hometown Hero Steps Up – Losing Brandon Mebane for the season was a big blow for the Bolts as the defensive captain has been a difference maker in his first year in San Diego. Still, the Chargers had faith that Damion Square could fill Mebane’s big shoes, and he did just that playing in his hometown of Houston. Starting at nose tackle, he recorded the first sack and tackle for loss of his career while wreaking havoc in the middle of the defensive line. Square explained his mindset heading into his first start:
“I came into this game and I knew that when (we) came out of this game, (my team) would be very satisfied with my performance… I think (they were). You always have one or two plays you want back, that is just the type of player that I am. I am very (proud) about my performance. Like I said, I played at a high level, got the W in Houston, my hometown, my people finally got a chance to see me so all of that is all good.”
6. First Step of a Difficult Challenge – While another loss won’t end the team’s postseason dreams, the Bolts have said they feel they must win out in order to make the playoffs. That is the one way they feel most comfortable making the postseason. Sunday’s win was a rousing one, but was just the first step in what will be a difficult challenge. Perhaps no one put the win in perspective better than Philip Rivers:
“We’re now at 5-6. We’ve got a chance now. We’re back where we are, we’re just two weeks removed. We wanted to be 5-5 after the Miami game, so we got chance to go back to 6-6 and set the stage for a four week deal.”