Here we are once again, left to ponder the “what-ifs.” What if this pass was completed? What if this tackle was made? What if this play was called? It is like a broken record for Chargers fans. This was once again the case as the Chargers dropped another heartbreaker to the Colts on Sunday.
After a sluggish offensive start, especially from Philip Rivers — who just looked a bit off all game long — the Bolts fell behind early by a score of 13-6.The Chargers then would tie it up on a fantastic strip sack by Jatavis Brown. The scoop and score afterward by Caraun Reid looked to be the play of the season thus far. The Bolts looked to have stolen the momentum from the Colts going into halftime.
The Chargers would then come out for the second half seeming to shake of the rust of the first half, as they drove the ball down the field lead by some huge catches by Tyrell Williams and Hunter Henry. The drive was then capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by second-year running back Melvin Gordon. Following the TD, the extra point was blocked by former Charger Antonio Cromartie. On the ensuing drive, the Colts would march right down the field and score, creeping to a one-point disadvantage, 20-19.
As San Diego looked to close the game out, the Rivers-led offense drove the ball down the field in a drive in which Melvin Gordon looked effective, yet the Chargers once again went away from him, throwing it on three consecutive downs. Rivers continued to look just a bit off on two of the three passing plays.
The Bolts just seemed content to kick a field goal and let the defense “Do its job;” by job I mean a big choke job, as Jason Verrett had his worst day in lightning bolts, getting burned by nicked up T.Y. Hilton all game long. The final drive from the Colts would be no different, as Luck would find T.Y. for the game-winning score, as fill-in safety Dexter McCoil and a host of Chargers couldn’t bring him down.
With 1:15 left and two timeouts, the Bolts seemed to have enough time to mount a comeback and steal this one. All hopes of this would soon be dashed away, as a huge completion to Hunter Henry would turn into a fumble with Clayton Geathers punching the ball out and the Colts’ D’Qwell Jackson would recover it, leaving Chargers fans to continue to wonder what if…
Duds of the game:
Philip Rivers – I’m sure he would be the first one to tell you he wasn’t sharp and he left too many points on the field. Notably, early in the game, No. 17 missed a wide open Dexter McCluster for a score. Philip was 26 of 39 for 330 passing yards. Why is he on the Dud list? His misfires were in huge situations where we he has been known to deliver. This loss was atypical for Rivers, seeing as he missed several throws which he would normally complete with ease.
Jason Verrett – I can’t think of a game in which I’ve seen Jason struggle like this. Hilton had his number all day, hauling in eight receptions for 174 yards and the late touchdown to him. Maybe it was just a bad day for Jason. He was definitely exposed against the speed of the Colts’ No. 13.
The Injury Bug – If it wasnt apparent with the loss of Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead, the injury bug is alive and well in Charger-land, claiming its next victim for the injured-reserve list, Manti Te’o. Te’o wasn’t the only one who was injured, as DJ Fluker, Jason Verrett and Denzel Perryman all looked gimpy by the end of the game on Sunday. Injuries are the nature of the game and tons of teams deal with them, but it seems no team has had to deal with it quite as much as the Bolts have over the past three years. Maybe there really is something in the water, or maybe the McNorv Kool Aid is going bad..
Dishonorable mentions – Chargers’ Run D (making Frank Gore look like ’08 Gore), Chris Hairston, Brandon Flowers
Studs of the game:
Jatavis Brown – The 2016 fifth-round selection was thrown into the fire when Te’o went down. Brown made his presence known with his strip of Andrew Luck. He also laid some huge lumber on a number of plays. We didn’t see much of Jatavis in preseason. One thing is for certain: from the limited time we have seen him on the field, Brown seems to have a nose for the ball and is a more capable coverage linebacker then Manti. With No. 50 out for the season, we will see if he can consistently be as disruptive as he was this past Sunday.
Tyrell Williams – Does any wide receiver on this team get more YAC (Yards after the catch) than Williams? He gets the ball and breaks tackles gaining at least 10 more yards afterwards. Add to that he has become one of Philip’s go-to guys on 3rd down, consistently picking them up time after time in the second half. If anyone needs to see the ball more it’s this guy. The emergence of Williams can only mean positive things for this offense going forward.
Melvin Gordon – Numbers-wise, his performance wasn’t better than last week; in fact, it wasn’t even close, as Gordon had 16 carries for 36 yards, adding one rushing score. Why is he on here then? For the simple fact that he contributed on all phases on offense: rushing, receiving and pass protection. The block he had on Robert Mathis was just unbelievable. Last year’s Melvin would’ve missed that. Melvin still has a long way to go, but thus far this season he’s showed up and then some.
Honorable Mentions – Chargers’ pass rush, Casey Hayward, Travis Benjamin, Denzel Perryman