Here are five top lessons learned from the Chargers' 20-6 win over the Oakland Raiders, presented by Select Physical Therapy.
1. Gordon's Ridiculous Streak Continues – I mean, what else is there to say about what Melvin Gordon has done of late? For the fifth straight game, the running back posted over 120 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown, becoming only the second running back in the past decade to accomplish that feat. Think about that for a second. Only one other player, Jamaal Charles, over the past 10 years has put up the type of numbers Gordon has on such a consistent basis. On Sunday, Gordon carried the ball 18 times for 93 yards (5.2 ypc) while catching five passes for 72 yards, including a game-changing 66-yard touchdown. After the game, Mike Pouncey couldn't help but rave about the dynamic running back:
"I've always known him as a hard runner that runs through tackles. But, the way he catches the ball out of the backfield is unbelievable. And it gives our offense so much stuff that we can throw at different teams; because both of our backs can catch the ball out of the backfield. It's awesome to have him as a running back. He makes us look good. And he made a lot of plays for our offense today."
2. Badgley Remains Perfect – All eyes were on Michael Badgley after the team handed over the kicking duties to him full-time earlier in the week. The undrafted free agent came through for the Bolts during his two-game stint as a fill-in earlier in the year, and he was just as impressive against the Raiders. Badgley was perfect on the day, drilling a pair of field goals (41, 27) and extra points. In the process, he set a new team record for the most points by a kicker in team history over his first three games while not missing a kick. After the game, Head Coach Anthony Lynn and Philip Rivers each explained how confident the team is every time Badgley trots out onto the field:
Lynn: "On his field goals, I have a lot of confidence in those. No doubt about it…I thought Badgley did just fine. He made his field goals, his extra points. He kicked off fine. The hang time on his kickoffs is something that he needed to improve on, and I felt like he did that."
Rivers: "We have great confidence in Mike. I think Mike has a lot of confidence too, which is good."
3. Selfless Skill Players – Remember that aforementioned 66-yard Gordon touchdown from the first lesson? Well, it wouldn't have been possible without the downfield blocking by the Bolts' skill players. Keenan Allen is known for his highlight reel catches, but there he was racing downfield throwing blocks, including a huge one on a defensive lineman. Virgil Green was also sprinting downfield, getting in defenders' ways to allow Gordon to find pay dirt. This wasn't an anomaly as the Chargers' skill players have been among the best downfield blockers in the NFL this year. They're a major reason why the team has had so many explosive plays, and Gordon couldn't be more appreciative of their selflessness:
"I definitely appreciate it. Keenan made a joke today saying, 'I should get some of your paycheck the way I'm blocking for you.' I said, 'It's a two-way street. I got flattened by a d-lineman trying to block you, too.' We're all out there working for each other. It's all smiles."
As Gordon noted, he's also throwing his body around out there blocking to allow his teammates to make big plays. He had a particularly noteworthy blitz pickup in Oakland which allowed Rivers to hit Antonio Gates for an 18-yard gain. On Monday, Lynn stressed how impressive Gordon has been in pass protection:
"You know, he has gotten so much better in that area. He was always capable. He's big enough, he's strong enough, but that's an attitude. That's an attitude of unselfishness and taking care of your quarterback. Those are the things that people overlook sometimes with runners. I think that's the biggest mismatch on the football field, a running back on a linebacker. When do you see someone that's 260 pounds take on someone that's 215 — that big of a difference in weight? These guys step up and do it all the time."
4. Defense to the Rescue – When a team controls the clock the way the Raiders did over the first 20 minutes of the game, limiting the Bolts to less than two minutes of total offense while working with short fields, you'd expect that team to race out to a quick lead. However, Gus Bradley's defense bowed up once again when they had to, limiting the damage to just three points. The first drive ended with a huge goal line stand as Derwin James stuffed Dwayne Harris on 4th-and-goal from the one-yard line. After the Raiders hit a field goal, the defense came up big once again on a 3rd-and-6 play with Oakland in field goal range. Melvin Ingram unleashed a nasty spin move and had a strip-sack of Derek Carr. Corey Liuget pounced on the ball, and it was all Bolts from that point on. Thus, you can understand why Lynn spoke glowingly about the defense's performance against the Raiders:
"The first half (it felt like) they had the ball the whole time. We may have had it three or four minutes, I don't know, but our defense did a heck of a job of holding those guys to field goals and not touchdowns. It was just outstanding. It's what they've been doing all year. That's the type of defense Gus has built and those guys respond every time when they get in those situations, so I was proud of them."
5. Cool Heads Must Prevail – It was a chippy game on Sunday, which you'd probably expect when these two bitter rivals square off. There were several personal foul flags called on the Bolts as cooler heads didn't always win out. While there was a lot to like about the team's win, Lynn mentioned several times how that was a major negative, and something that must get corrected moving forward:
"That was the only negative that I took from the game. We have some corrections to make, as always, but that right there is what I don't want to see. We have to be smarter. It was chippy. Some of it — our guys were playing good, clean football. It was both ways. It chippy from both (sides). I saw some of the things they were doing. We just have to react and respond better than what we did — be smarter….No doubt, (it's about walking away). I think, in today's society, walking away is tough. Guys used to take the gloves off and fight, but those days are over. You'll get killed today if you take that mentality out on the streets in society today. I just believe — and we talk about stuff like that — toughness now is having the mental toughness to walk away from something like that."
Five Tips for Addressing Body Tightness
- Physical therapists can help address mobility issues through manual therapy techniques, including joint mobilization and myofascial release. Physical therapists are trained to know when a joint feels restricted in a certain direction or when your muscles feel tight. Additionally, their in-depth knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics helps them address mobility limitations to optimize movement.
- Use a foam roller to achieve self-myofascial release when you are at home or work. Use a foam roller in a more static way, such as lying on it perpendicularly to achieve thoracic spine mobility, or in a more dynamic way, such as rolling out your iliotibial band (IT band), to improve glute activation or decrease low back pain/tension.
- Lacrosse balls come in handy for self-myofascial release. Use a lacrosse ball to alleviate trigger points in smaller muscles that require a more concentrated pressure, like your levator scapulae, rotator cuff, piriformis or hip flexor.
- Static and dynamic stretching are both key for proper muscle function and movement patterns. Doing so regularly over time can help our tissues adapt and accept different loads during our daily movements.
- Lastly, introducing load to a muscle can help mobilize the tissue. For example, lower weight and higher repetitions promote blood flow and thermodynamic responses allowing for more movement. Strengthening a muscle while it's lengthening under tension (eccentric loading) will not only improve tissue length but also strengthen the collagen that makes up our muscles and tendons.
For more information on reducing body tightness, or to request a complimentary consultation with Select Physical Therapy, please visit selectphysicaltherapy.com today!