Chargers Falter In Home Opener
September 21, 2017
In a tough hard fought game the Miami Dolphins held on for a 19-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at the StubHub Center in Carson before 25,381 fans. The game was the home opener for the Chargers as well as the season opener for the Dolphins, who had their season opener with Tampa Bay postponed due to Hurricane Irma.
The Chargers had a chance to win in the last seconds of the game but a 44-yard field goal attempt by rookie kicker Younghoe Koo went wide right.
The Dolphins produced a well-balanced offense led by quarterback Jay Cutler, who completed 24 of 33 passes for 230 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. They also got 122 yards rushing from running back Jay Ajayi and 13 pass receptions from wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Cutler showed that he still has one of the strongest arms in the NFL and made some nice passes while rolling out and extending plays withhis legs.
Charger Quarterback Philip Rivers had another brilliant game completing 31 of 39 passes for 331 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. The one touchdown pass went to Tight End Antonio Gates, who set an NFL record for Tight Ends with his 112th career touchdown pass reception. But Rivers could not do it by himself.
This was a tough loss for the Chargers. The loss drops the Chargers to 0-2 and puts them in an early season hole in the AFC West. The other three teams in the division are all 2-0. The Chargers really needed awin at home to keep pace with the rest of the division.
But as Rivers said after the game: "We've got a division opponent coming here next week that is not going to have any sympathy for us for losing two tough ones down at the buzzer. We can be sick about it for a little while but we'd better get ready to go."
The larger issue for the Chargers is what has happened to the running game? On Sunday versus the Dolphins the Chargers had 44 total yards rushing. Through two games the Chargers are averaging 54 yards per game, which is 31st in the NFL, just ahead of the New York Giants. Charger star running back Melvin Gordon had 13 yards rushing against the Dolphins on Sunday. The lack of a running game leads to bad decisions on the field.
On Sunday the Chargers were leading 10-3 with about a minute left inthe half, had two timeouts and were facing a third-and-one at theDolphin 17-yard line. Showing no confidence in their ability to pick up one yard on the ground, Rivers dropped back for a pass and was sacked for an eight-yard loss.
That forced the Chargers to call a timeout at 43 seconds and settle for a field goal attempt of 43 yards by Koo, which went wide right. Insteadof going into halftime with a 17-3 or 13-3 lead the Chargers led 10-3 and that proved to be the difference in the game.
The Special teams should also be called out for not being special. Koo is 1/4 on field goal attempts with the two of those misses on him and the third miss a block that was the fault of the offensive line. The Charger field goal percentage of 25% made is last in the NFL.
The punting has been less than spectacular, with punter Drew Kaser having one punt blocked and with a net average of 36.8, which is 29th among NFL punters. A holding call on a poor kickoff return in the fourth quarter got the Charger offense backed up to the six yard line, which was followed by a poor punt from Kaser. That set up the Dolphins with good field position and led to the 54-yard game winning field goal by Dolphin kicker Cody Parkey.
Charger Head Coach Anthony Lynn said: "We had a blocked kick (last week) and a blocked punt today. It's not good enough. It's not acceptable. That type of stuff has to be cleaned up." The poor play of the special teams is not helping Philip Rivers. At this point, he is carrying the team on his shoulders. Which sets up the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday afternoon at the Stub Hub Center.
The Chiefs are loaded, with rookie running back Kareem Hunt leading the NFL in rushing yards and averaging 7.6 yards per carry. He has scored five touchdowns in the first two games.
The Chiefs have a very good pass rush led by linebacker Justin Houston, who already has three sacks in two games. This is a game that is going to require a consistent rushing attack from the Chargers. If Rivers is forced to throw the ball 40 or more times on Sunday, the likelihood of the Chargers going to 0-3 are very good. The Charger defense is going to be challenged in this game. They also need the special teams to play well.
The Chargers need their fans to show up and be vocal. If the Dolphin game was any indication it is only going to get worse. The potential to have a "Sea of Red" in the stands this week for the game against Kansas City is very real. There is an intimate feel to the StubHub Center but it only really works for the home team if their fans show up. For better or worse, the Chargers are in Los Angeles and they could use some support from the locals.