Well, I think it has finally sunk in that what we all watched on Saturday actually happened. After being down by 21 points twice, and giving up 355 yards rushing, the Chargers did indeed leave San Francisco with a win over the 49ers.
Their hopes for the playoffs were kept alive and they now control their own destiny in the week 17 contest at Kansas City against the Chiefs.
But back to the game at Levi’s stadium.
In game that had a ridiculous amount of lows, the highs proved to be the deciding factor this past Saturday. For the fans that were ready to give up, I can’t really say I blame you. There were so many moments where it appeared as though the game would end in a loss for the Bolts.
After the game both, Mike McCoy and Philip Rivers stated the obvious that the first half was about as bad as it gets.
Going into the second half down 28-7, the Chargers were able to score two unanswered touchdowns. And then came another one of the lows. As Colin Kaepernick dropped back, he saw a running lane from the pocket. That running lane would lead him 90 yards down the field for a touchdown. Both Kaepernick and Frank Gore ran all over the San Diego defense.
Philip Rivers, as everyone knows, is playing with a bulging disc in his back. Not a bulging…. nevermind. Despite 3 interceptions on the night, he managed to tough it out, play through the pain and finished with four passing touchdowns; two of which were to his favorite target, Antonio Gates. There is no doubting the toughness of Rivers. The concern was whether the line could keep him upright due to another game with moving pieces in front of the man who rocks the bolo tie.
Chris Watt, rookie guard that has been forced to the center position due to injuries, went down in the game and in comes free agent pickup Trevor Robinson. He would mark the 5th center in 2014 that Rivers would play with this season. As if that wasn’t enough, Johnnie Troutman gets hurt and in comes undrafted free agent rookie Jeremiah Sirles. He is the third player to man the right guard position this year. Sirles actually played pretty darn well.
Danny Woodhead was placed on injured reserve in the week 2 victory over Buffalo. The running back ahead of him on the depth chart, Ryan Mathews, has missed significant time this year and neither played versus the 9ers. The theme of ‘Next Man up’ in 2014 is getting put to the test, to say the least. The reserve Charger ball carriers, Branden Oliver, Ronnie Brown and Donald Brown, managed to grind out 98 yards rushing as a group. This softened up the defense enough to where Rivers was able to atone for a poor first half and finish the day 356 yards passing.
After fighting through an ankle injury and broken collarbone against Denver, Keenan Allen expectedly missed the San Francisco game. As mentioned above, two of Philip’s touchdown strikes were to Gates. But Eddie Royal and Malcom Floyd accounted for the other two scores. Royal came up huge with 10 receptions for 94 yards including a phenomenal catch on fourth down to keep the drive alive late in the fourth quarter. Floyd — 4 catches for 50 yards –had the game-tying score that would take the game into overtime. Talk about two receivers stepping up in the absence of Allen.
As Nick Novak kicked the game-winning field goal, the euphoria that initially started as lost hope and a sea of emotions took over. We were at La Bella’s in Chula Vista with a group of about 100 Charger fans. As I’m sure it did every single place where fans were watching the game, the room erupted and stayed loud for quite some time.
It goes without saying that this year’s Chargers have faced a ton of adversity. Though the injuries have piled up to insane numbers, they have found a way to get it done and now they control their own destiny when they travel to Arrowhead stadium.
This is all a team and NFL organization can hope for when going into a season. Earn a chance at the playoffs and then see what happens once you get there.
The journey continues this Sunday because of the collective effort of men that refused to give up last week despite all of the odds.
“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.” – Seneca
Thanks a lot for reading.