Here are five top lessons learned from the Chargers' 27-22 win over the New York Giants:
1. Better to Win Ugly than Lose Pretty – It wasn't a perfect win, but then again, you don't get bonus points for how you look on the way to victory. The Bolts needed a win in the worst way, and they showed their true character in the gritty comeback. There were numerous times when the team could have given into adversity and folded. Instead, they found a way to come home to L.A. with their first win of the season. Head Coach Anthony Lynn summed up the team's emotions immediately after the clock struck zero:
"Our guys hung in there and found a way. It wasn't always pretty, but they found a way to win a close game. I think there's a valuable lesson in there. I just want to enjoy this one today, and then tomorrow we will work on what that lesson really was."
2. Gordon Grinds – Perhaps no one embodied the Bolts' fight and grit better than Melvin Gordon. The running back started off slow, averaging a meager 3.0 yards per carry for much of the first quarter. He also had a costly drop, which preceded the botched snap that resulted in a safety. However, the Chargers continued to ride Gordon, and rewarded that faith beginning with 1:16 remaining in the opening quarter. He pounded out runs of 11, and eight yards before catching a touchdown pass to get L.A. on the board. Gordon also unleashed a wicked stiff arm to move the chains on a pivotal third down reception. That effort sprung the third-year running back, who finished the day with 20 carries for 105 yards (5.3 ypc) along with six receptions for 58 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It marked Gordon's first 100-yard day since last November as he wore down the Giants for the rest of the game. Philip Rivers couldn't help but rave about the running back's performance following the win:
"Well he started off a little slow. I don't mean just him, but just the run game in general. I started off slow. We just kind of started off all a little bit just kind of hit and miss. Just not very much in a groove, and then he got going. He popped a few runs. He ran hard. He always does, and then he obviously (came through) catching the touchdown. He rushed for over a hundred. This has been tough on him too, the last couple of weeks, rushing for 25 yards or 40 yards; whatever it's been. That's been hard. He's a competitor, and he wants to help us win like all of us do. So, he battled like crazy today and carried a lot of the load."
3. Timely Takeaways – The Chargers hadn't forced a takeaway since the last quarter of Week 1's loss to the Denver Broncos. They couldn't have ended the drought in grander fashion than they did in New York, forcing a pair of game-changing turnovers in the final four minutes. The first was a Melvin Ingram special, as the AFC's leader in sacks not only took Eli Manning down, but managed to dislodge the football. The defensive end wasn't done, as he somehow came up with the loose ball at the 11-yard line as it bounced between bodies on the turf. Ingram's forced fumble led to Gordon's game-winning touchdown three plays later. However, the contest wasn't decided until Tre Boston picked off Eli Manning on fourth down with 49 seconds remaining. Afterwards, Gordon was grateful for the defense's timely performance:
"It's phenomenal when the defense can help set things up for the offense. We know how explosive we could be. We just need the opportunities and they definitely gave us those opportunities today. I'm proud of how the defense played. When we needed them to step up and make a play, they did that. So hats off to those guys. We definitely couldn't have done it without those guys today."
4. Rivers' Moxie – Philip Rivers' was kicking himself after throwing an interception in the red zone early in the second half. It looked like the Bolts would add to their one-score lead. Instead, the Giants took over and marched 80-yards to go back on top. However, Rivers showed moxie, rebounding with an impressive drive in which he converted a trio of tough third-and-longs. Not only that, he made perhaps his best throw of the season while under immense pressure on a 25-yard TD strike to Hunter Henry. Rivers later authored the 23rd come-from-behind fourth-quarter win of his career as the team scored 10 points in a 1:40 span late in the game. As Lynn explained, it was vintage Rivers:
"Vintage Philip. He knew he threw a knucklehead pass and he came off (upset). Then in the very next series he threw an unbelievable pass, so that's what the good ones do."
5. Plenty to Improve – As noted in the first lesson, there is still plenty for the Bolts to improve on even after the win. Whether it was giving up 6.1 yards per carry on the ground, throwing an inopportune interception in the red zone or committing 11 penalties, there are several key facets the Chargers must shore up if they want to start stacking wins. Luckily, that point wasn't lost on the team, as evidenced by Rivers' comments after the game:
"We didn't play our best game, but I think it's a good sign that you cannot play your best game and find a way to win. Thinking back to the teams we had (here) that were really good, we were able to do that. I'm not saying we're there yet. I told you six to eight weeks ago (that) I think we have the potential to be one of those teams. But it was good to win; just to find a way to win. And maybe better that it was (this way than) in a two or three score game like it probably should have been if we make some of the plays that we should make."
Top photos from the Chargers' comeback road victory against the Giants. Browse through the best shots from the Week 5 matchup.
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