Here are five top lessons learned from the Chargers' 22-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, presented by Select Physical Therapy.
1. Live to Fight Another Day – The message coming out of the Chargers' locker room after the game was a simple one – they simply got beat. The Bolts were unable to play their style of ball, and they gave the Ravens full credit for the win. Baltimore was able to assert their will on defense, holding the Chargers' explosive offense in check, and authored long, meticulous drives on offense that also took L.A. out of rhythm. It was a disappointing loss to say the least, but the silver lining is that it occurred in Week 16 and not in January. As Philip Rivers noted, at least they live to fight another day as they take their 11-4 record into the season finale against the Denver Broncos. This type of performance won't cut it in the playoffs, so the Bolts need to learn from the loss and use it as fuel moving forward:
"Really the whole game, we didn't play as well as we have played. If we're going to have one like this, better now than later. But we have to regroup and have a good week and find out where we go in January."
2. Faster Starts Needed – Philip Rivers is firmly in discussion for this year's MVP, but he's thrown an interception on his first pass the last two weeks. Both picks gave the opposition a short field, resulting in points on the board. Overall, the Chargers have fallen behind early in four of their past five games. While they were able to come back and win the first three, you're playing with fire, and the Bolts got burned against the Ravens. Yes, the team took a lead early in the second half, and they did have the ball in their hands with the chance to pull ahead late, but the slow start put the team behind the eight ball. They had to scratch and claw from behind virtually the entire game, and as Mike Pouncey pointed out after the game, they need to find a remedy quickly for these slow starts:
"We have to start better. The last four or five games, we came from behind — it's been awesome because we won those games, but that's not winning football. Especially this time of year, we have to go out there and play our best in the first half and come out and finish the game in the second half — we haven't done that yet."
3. Flag Fest – Just when it seemed the Bolts made a big play, they'd turn around and see one of the worst sights in football – a yellow flag on the green turf. While the Ravens "out-played and out-coached" the Bolts according to Head Coach Anthony Lynn, his team also did themselves no favor with too many self-inflicted mistakes. Even worse, they came at the most inopportune times. For instance, the Chargers took over at the Baltimore 39-yard line with exactly three minutes left, but a strong eight-yard run on first down was undone by a holding call. Instead of 2nd-and-2 from the 31, the Chargers faced 1st-and-20 from the 49. The next snap, of course, resulted in a fumble and scoop-and-score for the Ravens that sealed the Bolts' loss. Overall, L.A. was flagged eight times for 69 yards, with many coming after it looked like the Chargers moved the chains on third down. Thus, you can understand why Lynn was disappointed with his team's discipline:
"We did not help ourselves with some of those stupid penalties that we had this afternoon."
4. Too Much Stress – That's the phrase Lynn used for the pressure Rivers faced all game long. Baltimore sacked number 17 four times, but he also took a beating the entire game as he was constantly under duress. As the head coach noted, it wasn't just one guy getting to the QB – it was the entire team:
"(Philip) was under a lot of stress. Like I said, I have to watch the tape and see what happened and see why there was so much pressure. It wasn't just one guy. I think they were taking turns. He was under a lot of stress today."
Nothing disrupts an offense like a strong pass rush, so it's no wonder why Rivers had his worst game of the year, failing to throw a touchdown pass for the first time. Afterward, he explained how the constant duress confounded the offense:
"It was huge. I give them credit. They did some good things up front, they did some good things in the secondary. We did alright at times, we just couldn't sustain anything for the most part. Our only touchdown was on a short field off a great play from our defense. We just couldn't get going. That's why I said, credit to them."
5. A Confident Bunch – If you think the Bolts' confidence took a beating after the loss … you'd be dead wrong. The Chargers remain a confident group, as they should considering they're still tied for the best record in the AFC. They also still have a crack at the number one seed in the AFC after the Seattle Seahawks beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. A Chargers win and Chiefs loss means the Bolts finish atop of the conference and receive a first round bye. However, even if that scenario doesn't occur, L.A. is just as confident in their ability to go on the road and take care of business. After all, they're 6-1 as road warriors this season, and that doesn't include their win as the "home team" in London. Thus, you can see why Rivers explained that the team remains confident despite the disappointing result:
"There will be no lost confidence with this group. There's only one thing that's crossed off, one more game to add to the slate (possibly) to win the whole thing. That's all that we know. I know it's disappointing, but we can't wallow in our disappointment very long."
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!