Here are five top lessons learned from the Chargers' 33-30 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, presented by Select Physical Therapy.
1. Keenan Allen is Special – Few players are able to do what Keenan Allen does when he is in the zone. And KA13 was certainly in the zone Sunday night at Heinz Field, totaling 14 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown in addition to catching a pivotal two-point conversion. Allen made his presence felt from the get-go, snaring five passes for 55 yards in the first quarter alone. The Steelers knew Philip Rivers was looking his way, and he did so a ton as Allen was targeted a whopping 19 times. But can you blame him? After all, Pittsburgh had no answer for the Bolts' top weapon, who feasted all night long. It truly was a special night for Allen, who drew rave reviews from his teammates. Their sentiments were best summed up by Russell Okung:
"Oh, my goodness. Keenan's special, and when the game's on the line, the plays he's able to make are unbelievable. We see him do it in practice every day. The guy prepares like crazy. He's a football player, but he's one of the great ones."
2. All Hail the King – If a big play is made, there's a decent chance Desmond King is the one delivering it. Ever since he entered the league a year ago, the cornerback has had a knack for coming up clutch. He also has a flair for the dramatic, and he was at it once again with an incredible punt return to the house early in the fourth quarter. Aided by huge holes provided by his blockers, King weaved 73 yards untouched into the end zone to tie the game after Philip Rivers hit Keenan Allen for the two-point conversion. Simply put, good things happen whenever Desmond King is on the field. Just ask Mike Williams, who was primed to trot onto the field as he watched King return the punt for the score:
"Man, first I'm looking for a flag. I'm like, 'Bro, if this is not a flag, we're good.' It wasn't a flag, we creased the lanes and he scored a touchdown. We got a little momentum going, and that punt return kind of put it over the edge for us. Got a lot of momentum after that, so we just were zoom focused."
3. Don't Forget About the D – The offense lit up the scoreboard in the second half, outscoring Pittsburgh 26-7. However, while they're getting the lion's share of attention following the win, Philip Rivers and company are only half the equation. What the defense did over the second half is being overlooked, but it can't be overstated. Pittsburgh began the half up 16 points with the ball. Simply put, the defense could not allow points on the drive, and they responded by forcing an early punt. Not only that, they limited the Steelers to only 118 yards after they totaled 218 in the first half. Casey Hayward explained what went right on defense:
"We came in here and said, 'We've got to figure it out.' We were down so we had to figure it out. We knew (what) we were capable of doing, it was just to get the offense back the ball. We knew they were going to be able to drive the ball. We saw it in the first half and we knew we needed to correct on defense and we did that…. We did a lot of good things in the first half, but we had a few plays we want to take back from the first half. There were like two plays, and we'd take them back. We were doing pretty well, so then the second half we were like, 'Hey, let's keep everything in front of us. Contain these guys. Come up and tackle.' We did that second half. We won on third downs and things like that. We were down so we had to win the second half by 16-plus, so that's what we did."
4. Jackson Brings Balance – The Chargers have boasted one of the league's elite offenses all year long, and a key component to that has been their ability to stay balanced. With Melvin Gordon toting the rock and Philip Rivers slinging it, the Bolts force defenses to remain honest, and they've taken advantage of that. However, with Melvin Gordon sidelined with a knee injury, L.A. struggled to get their ground game going. In fact, they were limited to a mere two yards on nine carries in the first half. The Bolts knew they had to get the run game going, and Justin Jackson was able to do just that with an impressive second half. The rookie toted the rock eight times for 63 yards and one touchdown, averaging 7.9 yards per carry. When all was said and done, the Chargers finished with 85 yards on 22 carries (3.9 ypc) after averaging 0.2 ypc in the first half. Thus, it's clear Jackson was a huge factor in the team's second-half comeback as Philip Rivers noted how impressive the running back proved to be:
"Justin gave us a little boost there, and the guys were blocking the heck out of it as well. And gosh the cutbacks, a couple of those cuts he made (were impressive), and a few other ones were big. It's not surprising to us but seeing it like we saw it tonight on Sunday Night Football was awesome to see."
5. 24-Hour Rule in Effect – Never get too high and never get too low. That's the key in the NFL, which truly is a week-to-week league. While the Chargers are rightfully celebrating their big win, the team knows they must quickly move on and prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals. Philip Rivers knows as well as anyone the importance of staying in the moment, so here's what he had to say while acknowledging the magnitude of the win:
"A big win for us. We haven't had one like this on the road against this kind of opponent, then add the fact that it was come from behind. I think winning the game would've been a lot (for us emotionally), but it really just gets us one more win. We stay in the hunt in the AFC West, and kept the margin in the wild card…. It's a heck of a December still ahead of us, but it was a big game to say the least."
Five Tips on Protein Shakes – Who, What, When and Why?
1. Protein shakes should be a supplement to a healthy diet and generally are not meant to replace a meal. Look to get your protein from natural sources such as meats, fish, nuts, and/or beans.
2. There is an over-abundance of choices for protein shakes, from Whey, to Soy, to Casein or plant-based products. In general, they are all protein and going to assist in building lean muscle. For starters, whey protein is a great choice as it is easy to digest, comes in many flavors and is readily available.
3. The best time to utilize your protein supplement is within 30 minutes of your workout, especially if the focus is on strength training. This is when your muscles are looking to replace the nutrients lost during the workout and your body will most efficiently utilize the supplements you are consuming.
4. Keep it simple; you do not need to spend big bucks or get trapped by fancy advertising. Initially, look for a protein that is generally lower in fat and carbohydrates, but high in protein. Then, depending on your goals, you can expand on your choices.
5. Lastly, be creative with your protein shake. They do not have to taste bad and can be mixed with a variety of options, including water, milk, yogurt and/or fruit. However, be careful in adding in ingredients as these add carbs and calories.
For more healthy tips, or to request a complimentary consultation with Select Physical Therapy, please visit selectphysicaltherapy.com today!