Upon Further Review: Five Lessons from the Cardinals Game

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Here are five top lessons learned from the Chargers’ 45-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals, presented by Select Physical Therapy.

1. Philip Rivers Spoils Us – There’s no other way to put it. Philip Rivers has been so good day in and day out in 203 straight starts that it’s easy to forget just how special he is. Then he goes out and has a game like he did on Sunday. By now, everyone knows that Rivers authored one of the most remarkable games in NFL history. Number 17 completed 28 of 29 attempts, including 25 in a row to start the game to mark the most consecutive completions in NFL history. His 96.6 completion percentage set the best single-game mark in league history for quarterbacks with at least 20 attempts, passing Kurt Warner, who once completed 92.3 percent of his passes. Rivers knew he was having a special game, but he had no idea how historic it was until he came into the locker room:

“I didn’t know it was 25 in a row. I knew we hadn’t missed. I did know that we hadn’t missed, but I didn’t know where it was. I did know that that first miss was that little short throw to (Austin) Ekeler of all things. It was an efficient day, to say the least. There were so many guys today who were making catches; the guys protecting. A lot goes into completing the ball, more than just me throwing it. It was a fun day, to say the least.”

2. Don’t Forget About the Pass Catchers – As Rivers noted, a lot goes into a completion, and enough can’t be said about the job his receivers did on some crazy catches. Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Sean Culkin were among those who turned heads with highlight-reel snares. Allen and Williams were maestros along the sideline while Culkin had a memorable first NFL reception, high-pointing the ball between two defenders to make the catch. Thus, you can appreciate why Rivers kept saying “we” when asked about his banner day:

“Those are kind of those far-off dreams you think about. Like, (what if I would ever play a game) where I don't miss one (pass)? Then you quickly say (to yourself) — (it's) probably not (going to happen), but there (is) the fact that we were standing there (midway through the third quarter) and we hadn't (missed a pass). Again, I know I keep saying 'we', because some of the great catches — and they were great catches — could've easily fallen (as) incomplete. There are the guys protecting up front. So, 'we' completed 25 in a row. I mean, there are a lot of guys involved in all of those (passes).”

3. Defense Keeps Responding – The first 15 plays of a game are usually scripted on offense. After that, a lot comes down to who makes the proper adjustments and the ability to execute. To that end, the Bolts defense has routinely shut down the opposition after taking their best shot. That’s exactly what happened once again on Sunday as the Cardinals scored 10 points on their first two drives, but were shut out the rest of the way while mustering a meager 41 yards of offense over the final three quarters. It’s a similar script to the Chargers’ past two wins as the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders each scored early before mainly getting shut down the rest of the way. Adrian Phillips weighed in on why the defense has been able to respond so well after taking the offense’s best shot early on:

“We really don’t make too many adjustments because throughout the week we have a great plan, and as long as we follow that plan, the game usually plays out how we want it to play out. Those first 15 plays of the game, that’s when you see the other side (have) their scripted plays. They’re kind of throwing in little wrinkles here and there. They’re trying to get up on you quick because they know with our defense, and with our offense, we can jump on you and we can take the game to another level. So those first 15 plays, I hate to say that we’re feeling them out because we’re not (because) we’re an attacking defense. But you get their best shot and we go back to the sideline, we say, ‘Hey look, it’s time to settle down. All that other stuff is over.’ And then we take off from there.”

4. Sudden Change Can Change the Game – There’s a reason why teams who win the turnover battle usually emerge victorious. Sudden change situations are pivotal, and on Sunday, it was the Bolts defense who came up huge when put in a tough situation. Down 10-7, the Cardinals forced a turnover, giving them the ball at Los Angeles’ 35-yard line. They were poised to add points to the board until the defense limited them to a one-yard gain followed by a pair of incompletions. That led to a missed field goal followed by 21-straight points by Philip Rivers and company to end the first half, giving the Chargers a commanding 28-10 lead heading into halftime. After the game, Head Coach Anthony Lynn explained how it was a game changer:

“That drive where they did the sudden change, that was huge for our football team. The momentum right there, it just shifted on our sidelines. That was huge.”

5. Full Faith in RB Corps – Melvin Gordon left the game early in the third quarter with a knee injury, and on Monday, the Chargers announced he suffered an MCL sprain and will be evaluated week-to-week. While Lynn deemed it “good news” considering what could have been, the team will rely on Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome for the foreseeable future. Sunday’s game showed why the Bolts aren’t worried, as each player had a strong showing. Ekeler toted the rock five times for 35 yards, averaging 7.0 yards per carry, while leading the team with 10 receptions for another 68 yards. Meanwhile, Jackson carried the ball seven times for 57 yards, averaging an even more impressive 8.1 ypc, while Newsome had four carries for 15 yards (3.8 ypc). Here’s what Lynn said on Monday about his stable of backs:

“I have full confidence in the young men that we have behind him (in) Austin, Justin and Detrez. Those guys are young. Young legs. This time of the season with the fresh legs and the veterans wearing down a little bit, sometimes they can come in and give a little juice to the offense. So it’ll be a good break for Mel if he doesn’t play, and I have full confidence in those young guys.”

Five Tips to Enhance Running Performance

  1. Research has shown you need seven to nine hours of sleep. Inadequate sleep may affect your performance. To help you determine what level of running your body can handle, check your heart rate variability.
  2. If you’re plagued by nagging running injuries, check to see if you are over-striding when your foot hits the ground. Make sure that your foot is turned properly when pushing off.
  3. The average person sits for up to 13 hours per day. If you’re trying to optimize your running performance, you need to get that mobility back. Incorporate dynamic stretches and light mobility work in your warm-ups before running.
  4. Just breathe. Believe it or not, lots of runners don’t know how to breathe when they run. The diaphragm is one of your greatest tools to aide in maximizing performance. Think belly breathing over chest breathing and work on the ratio of X:Y, where X equals the number of steps to your inhale and Y equals the number of steps to your exhale. Easy runs should be a ratio of 3:3, while moderate runs should be 2:2 and hard runs should be 1:2 or 2:1.
  5. Cross training doesn’t only refer to weights. It can mean surfaces, levels, distances and speeds. Not only does varying your run force your body to adapt, it also challenges the mind on the fly.

For more healthy running tips or to request a complimentary consultation with Select Physical Therapy, please visit selectphysicaltherapy.com today!

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