Onrushing Chargers Eye Top Of Division
November 23, 2017
Sometimes a new head football coach in the NFL is so desperate to spark the offense and win that he will make a decision out of desperation.
On Sunday, that is exactly what happened to Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott, who decided to bench an experienced starting quarterback in Tyrod Taylor and give rookie Nate Peterman his first start as a quarterback in the NFL.
Peterman was a fifth round draft pick out of Pittsburgh in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The decision to start the rookie ended badly, as Peterman threw five interceptions and the Bills were crushed by the Los Angles Chargers 54-24 on Sunday at the Stub Hub Center.
The decision to start Peterman on the road against perhaps the best defensive line in football did not make sense. From the start Peterman was under extreme pressure from Charger stars Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. He forced several throws, with three being intercepted in the first quarter alone.
Taylor has thrown three interceptions this season in 279 attempts. Peterman threw three interceptions in his first eight attempts against the Chargers.
McDermott did not regret his decision. McDermott about starting Peterman: “I don’t regret my decision. I regret the result...This is in part about winning now and in part about winning in the future.” The Bills lost last week to the Saints 47-10. They were trailing in the third quarter to the Chargers 47-10. If the last two weeks are a glimpse into the future, it does not look bright for McDermott.
The Chargers ended up with six defensive turnovers, returning two for touchdowns, one a 59-yard interception return by linebacker Korey Toomer in the first quarter and the other a fumble return by Ingram of 39 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
The Chargers’ offense had zero turnovers for the game and zero penalties through the first three quarters and only one penalty for the entire game. Charger
Head coach Anthony Lynn was very pleased with the performance of his football team: "What I took away from this game was, we played smart. Regardless of who they started at quarterback, we didn't play dumb football.” Lynn has not always been able to say that after a game.
Special teams did a good job of covering the many kickoffs and the offense moved the ball consistently, with Charger quarterback Philip Rivers throwing for two touchdowns, both to Keenan Allen. For the game Allen had 12 catches and 159 yards and the two touchdown catches. Running back Melvin Gordon had 20 carries for 80 yards and one rushing touchdown.
Charger quarterback Rivers came into the game having spent the last week with concussion symptoms from a hit in the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was put into the NFL’s concussion protocol for the week and listed as questionable but he was cleared to play for the game. For Rivers, a player who had not missed a start since becoming the starter in 2006, it was a strange place to be.
Rivers after the game: “I hadn’t really been in that position before. It was a little bit of new territory for me. I really felt good all week as the whole week progressed. There was really never any doubt in my mind. A lot of it is really just proper protocol. Make sure I go through all the steps and give everybody confidence that you’re good to go. I was. And I felt good all the way through.”
Rivers looked good all the way through as well, completing 20/32 passes for 251 yards and the two touchdown passes to Allen.
The Chargers are 4-6 for the season but they have won four of their last six games. Over this stretch they have been the best team in the AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs are in first place at 6-4 but they have lost four of their last five games. The Oakland Raiders are 4-6 and have lost six of their last eight. The Denver Broncos are 3-7 and have lost six straight games.
The Chargers need a win in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day against the Dallas Cowboys to stay in the AFC West division race. After the Dallas game the Chargers have ten days to rest before their game at home against the winless Cleveland Browns.
The following week the Chargers get the Washington Redskins at home. The Redskins are currently 4-6 and have lost four of their last five games.
The Chargers have a favorable schedule if they can get by the Cowboys in Dallas on a short week.
The Cowboys are 5-5 and have lost two straight games. In the last two they have been pummeled by the Atlanta Falcons 27-7 and this week were routed 37-9 by the Philadelphia Eagles. They are struggling without All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is suspended for six games by the NFL due to violations.
Elliott will not be available for the game against the Chargers. The offensive line has also been hit with injuries, with All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith having missed the past two weeks with groin and back injuries
The Cowboys have not scored an offensive touchdown in the last seven quarters and in the last two games have given up twelve sacks. Their struggling passing attack will be going up against two elite pass rushers in Bosa and Ingram, the strength of the Charger defense.
If Cowboy left tackle Smith is unable to play this Thursday it could be a very rough week for the Cowboy quarterback Dak Prescott who has not played well the past two weeks without both Smith and Elliott.
The Chargers will need another week of smart football to win at Dallas. Winning on the road is never easy. The game will be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Thanksgiving Day. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. on CBS.