Culver City Observer -

By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Chargers End Long Losing Streak

 

October 12, 2017

In a battle of two winless teams, a game that some billed as the crummy game of the week, the Los Angeles Chargers ended their nine-game regular season losing streak in an exciting and typically close fashion, beating the New York Giants 27-22 on a late touchdown at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

It was the first Charger regular season win since November of 2016. It was not a thing of beauty but it was a victory. The Chargers committed 11 penalties, gave up a safety for two points on a bad snap from center and threw an interception in the red zone, costing the Chargers points. But they found a way to emerge with a win.

As Charger head coach Anthony Lynn stated: "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."

The Chargers got big performances from running back Melvin Gordon and linebacker Melvin Ingram. Gordon rushed for 105 yards on 21 carries and added 58 yards in receptions. Gordon also caught two touchdown passes, including the winning score of ten yards from Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

Rivers was ecstatic over Gordon's performance: "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."

Melvin Ingram had two sacks in the game, including the biggest defensive play of the game late in the fourth quarter. With four minutes left in the game the Giants were leading 22-20, but facing a third down and seven from their own 23-yard line. Giant quarterback Eli Manning dropped back and was sacked by Ingram, who had beaten the Giant offensive guard on an inside stunt.

Ingram not only sacked Manning, but he forced a fumble and in the ensuing scramble for the ball and recovered the fumble as well. It ended up being a 12-yard loss for the Giants, giving the Chargers a first down at the Giants 11-yard line. Three plays later Charger Quarterback Rivers found Gordon open for the winning touchdown.

Watching the Chargers go to the victory formation at the end of the game was indeed an unusual sight. It was as if a great weight had been lifted off their shoulders.

As Rivers stated: "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."

The Chargers are 1-4 and are currently ranked sixth in offensive passing yards per game at per game and 11th in total offensive yardage per game. They have shown that they can move the ball on offense. They have a very good group of receivers. Antonio Gates has caught more touchdown passes than any tight end in NFL history. Hunter Henry, the tight end of the future, has caught 10 touchdown passes in 20 games.

Wide receivers Keenan Allen and Tyrell William have both had 1,000 yard receiving seasons with Rivers. Speedy wide receiver Travis Benjamin had 966 yards receiving in 2015 at Cleveland, so he is capable of big games. Running backs have accounted for 32 pass receptions through the first five games of the season, with Gordon leading the way with 19 pass receptions and three touchdown catches. The Chargers have an abundance of receiving weapons.

This week Rivers could have another receiving weapon to throw to. Mike Williams, the Chargers' 2017 first round pick, is healthy and expected to be activated this week. Adding Williams to the current group of receivers will be a challenge for any defense.

Then there is the Charger pass rush led by Ingram and Joey Bosa. They are tied for third in sacks in the NFL. They can get pressure on a quarterback with just a four-man rush.

It is somewhat difficult to understand how the Chargers are 1-4. They have talent and they are in every game to the end. But as Hall of Fame NFL Head Coach Bill Parcells once said: "You are what your record says you are."

The Oakland Raiders are up next for the Chargers in Oakland. The division rival Raiders have lost three straight games and are close to circling the drain on what was once a promising season. The Raiders have not led in a game since their Week 2 victory over the New York Jets.

The Raiders are ranked 30th in offensive yardage per game and 26th in passing yards per game. Quarterback Derek Carr, coming off a back injury, will attempt to start on Sunday for the Raiders. They will need him if they want to beat the Chargers.

For the Raiders to win this game they need to run the ball. The Chargers are dead last on defense against the run and on Sunday, even the Giants were able to run on the Chargers, gaining 152 yards on 6.1 yards per carry average. The Raiders will need a big game from their rugged running back, Marshawn Lynch.

The Raiders will also need to get pressure on Rivers, who has only been sacked six times in five games. The Raiders are vulnerable at the corners due to injuries and their secondary is just not holding up well in coverage. The Raiders will need a big game from All-Pro defensive end Khalil Mack. They need to get pressure on Rivers to help their secondary.

For the Chargers to win they need another good game from running back Gordon. If the Chargers can run the ball and get some balance to their offense it will be tough for a struggling Raider defense to shut down the Chargers offense. On defense, the Chargers need to tackle. If they can put the Raiders offense in obvious passing situations that will open up the mighty pass rush of Ingram and Bosa.

This should be an enjoyable, hard fought match between two division rivals that don't like each other. Both teams need a win and neither can afford to fall further behind the Chiefs and Broncos. Expect a playoff type of atmosphere.

 

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