Here are five top lessons learned from the Chargers' 19-10 win over the Cleveland Browns:
1. Bolts in "Weird" Playoff Race – The importance of Sunday's win cannot be overstated. As we enter the final quarter of the season, the victory propelled the Chargers into a three-way tie atop the AFC West. After beginning the season 0-4, the Bolts have gone 6-2 over the past eight weeks, setting up a frantic race with the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders to win the division. The Chargers face both teams as they head to Kansas City for a primetime tilt in Week 15 before hosting the Raiders in the season finale. Philip Rivers has seen a lot over his career, but even he admitted to MMQB's Peter King how "weird" it is to be in this position:
"I see this division (as) capable and dangerous. Kansas City can score 40 in a given week. Oakland's explosive; really explosive. And I look at us and sometimes I think, 'Man, those two field goal games and the game I screwed up against Kansas City… we could be sitting here 9-3 and running away with it!' But then reality slaps me. I say, 'Quit saying what could have been! Deal with reality.' And the reality is, it's a great race—just kind of a weird race…We go play the Giants. I remember I'm on bus number three. I got a bunch of guys there around me, and I said, 'Hey, let's forget about Kansas City. They beat New England, they beat Philly, they beat Washington… I mean, they're killing teams. This is the best team ever created! Forget 'em. Let's just see if we can somehow get to .500 with a chance and see if we can sneak into a wild card.' And little by little we just started digging.'"
2. Keenan Allen is Out of His Mind – You know the feeling when Clayton Kershaw is blowing batters away and Steph Curry is draining threes like they're layups? That's pretty much the level Keenan Allen is playing at the moment. KA13 is simply out of his mind right now. The wideout hauled in 10 passes for 105 yards and a TD on Sunday. In the process, he became the first player in NFL history to catch 10-plus passes, go over 100-yards receiving and score at least one TD in three straight games. He has already tied his career-high for catches in a season with 77, and there are still four games remaining. After the game, Rivers chimed in with what makes Allen such a dynamic weapon:
"He is just a guy, again, that is so easy to feel as a quarterback when I am back there getting ready to throw it. He is just an easy guy. His body language is very inviting as far as when he is coming in on his cuts. I can just see it easily and well. Some of that is reps and some of that is just what makes him really good. The guy's ability to beat man coverage and to understand what the defense is doing is up there with the best of them."
3. Bosa Grows – Good defenses find a way to make a play when needed most. Once again, the Bolts defense closed the game out in resounding fashion. And once again, it was Joey Bosa who made the big play. With Cleveland threatening to make it a one-score game late in the fourth quarter on 3rd-and-goal, Bosa sealed the team's win with a strip-sack of DeShone Kizer. Number 99 set a new career-high for sacks in a season (11.5). Bosa showed a rare knack for getting to the QB a year ago, but he entered 2017 determined to force more takeaways. He's done just that as his four forced fumbles are the second-most in the NFL. Rivers once again marveled at how the defensive end is able to dominate games:
"The sack-fumble Joey made was huge right there. That was one of those, 'Hey, it's fixing to go to 19-13.' I was over there saying, 'Here comes draw or screen. (They) kick a field goal and kick it off with five minutes left and make us go do something.' One of those where (if) offensively, we go three-and-out and punt, they are looking to drive and score and beat us 20-10. (Then) Joey comes up with the sack-fumble. They continue to get turnovers at key times."
4. Smart Running – The Chargers came out of the gate relying on Rivers' arm. While Head Coach Anthony Lynn prefers a balanced approach when it comes to passing the ball and pounding it, the Bolts made a concerted effort to attack the Browns through the air based on their personnel. That's why the team wasn't concerned that they threw the ball 43 times while ran it 25 times, including a pair of kneel downs. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler combined for 23 totes for 96 yards, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Lynn explained how the Bolts' preparation dictated the way they attacked Cleveland:
"They like to play base to our three wide [receivers]. When I say base, I mean there are three linebackers on the field. As long as there are three line backers on the field, I felt like we had better match-ups in the passing game."
5. Hayward's Heavy Heart – It's impossible to know what was going through Casey Hayward's mind when he took the field. The reigning Defensive Player of the Month missed practice all week after his brother tragically passed away in a car accident. Yet there he was on Sunday, limiting Josh Gordon to only four catches on 11 targets. Adrian Phillips best summed up how the team feels about Hayward when discussing what it was like seeing him play with a heavy heart:
"Casey's just unbelievable. A very tough situation to handle; and to deal with all those emotions (and) come back and play a full game not even a week later is a testament to how mentally and physically strong he is. We tried to make it easier for him to show how much we care for him. We are brothers, and I pray for him every single day."
Static Stretching vs. Dynamic Stretching
Stretching your muscles before activity is important to increase flexibility, improve performance and decrease chance of injury. But what type of stretching should you do; static or dynamic?
- Static stretching involves moving a joint to the end of its range of motion and maintaining that position; for example, bending down to touch your toes and holding that position.
- Static stretching of 2-3 sets of 30 seconds is beneficial to increase range of motion and to "turn off" overactive muscles. If the muscle being stretched becomes more painful following bouts of static stretching, stop and consult a physician or physical therapist.
- Dynamic stretching involves active, controlled movement of a limb through its range of motion; for example, bending down to touch your toes and counting to three on the way down to your toes and on the way back up. Dynamic stretching is different from ballistic stretching, which involves rapid bouncing in the end-range of the muscle, which should be avoided.
- Dynamic stretching of 7-10 minutes is beneficial to improve performance by increasing muscle activity. Dynamic stretches prime a muscle and prepares it to work. After a general dynamic stretching program is performed, make sure to incorporate sports-specific dynamic stretches that mimic the movements of your activity.
- Static stretching remains a good option to gain or maintain flexibility. It should be incorporated into a cool-down or at a separate time from your workout if increased flexibility is the goal. Perform dynamic stretching during the warm-up, especially with activities that involve quick, explosive and reactive movements.
For more information regarding static and dynamic stretching, or to request a complimentary consultation with Select Physical Therapy, please visit **selectphysicaltherapy.com** today!