Week 14 delivered a Sunday afternoon of Chargers football as it should be: A convincing win, a frustrated opponent – a win against Eli’s team is always extra sweet – and a joy for the fans, both at the Q and at home.
This victory also pleased me because it confirmed just about everything I wrote in my article The 2013 Chargers: Patience and Silver Linings from last week. It’s not too late to read it if you haven’t yet.
Despite the negative win-loss record I explained how good the Chargers offense has been in 2013 and elaborated on the emergence of new playmakers. Finally, I concluded the Bolts have a playoff caliber offense.
Against NYG Philip Rivers continued his resurgence with another excellent performance. He completed 75% (21) of 28 passes with 3 TDs for 249 yds (no INTs) and ended the game with a QB rating of 137.4 *. I’ll forgive him that awkward fumble. It wasn’t just the stats that impressed. He was vocal as usual, directing plays from the line, drawing the defense offside on occasion, and showed awareness by either extending the play or saving it with a quick dump or screen. Rivers connected with seven different receivers, spreading the ball where a player got open.
Keenan Allen may have had better games in number of receptions and yards, but with his 2 TDs he again proved why he has become so invaluable for the Bolts in such a short time. Adding 3 catches to reach a total of 61 made him surpass Tomlinson as the all-time Chargers rookie receiving leader **. Flashing elite WR potential each week, Keenan Allen should be the frontrunner for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Danny Woodhead is such an exciting and important playmaker for the Bolts. His 39 yd grab was just incredible. Those Giants defenders should be embarrassed. Woodhead now leads all running backs in number of receptions (65) and receiving yards (534). Rivers obviously trusts him as as red zone target, where Woodhead rewarded that trust with another TD-catch (his 6th) *.
Of all emerging offensive stars TE Ladarius Green had a very quiet match with zero catches. I noticed the Giants D giving him tight coverage, especially out of the bunch formation. A sign they were very aware of his playmaking abilities. Green will get the opportunity to shine again.
Behind a complete offensive line with all projected starters the Bolts’ ground game performed more than admirably, finishing with a total of 146 rush yds. In the 3rd and 4th quarter they were also able to control the clock. Ryan Mathews was a beast combining explosive bursts with tough running. He added another 100 yd game to his stat sheet. Furthermore, Whisenhunt showed progressing insight by using Ryan on goal line carries, three times in a row! Fortunately, it was third time lucky for Mathews reaching the end zone for a score.
Finally, I’d like to make a small comment about the defense by emphasizing how much of a boost the return of Jarret Johnson is for the Bolts. He’s very capable in setting the edge and a huge asset in stopping the run. The defense as a whole had a good week too, which is good for morale. Thursday at Mile High will be a different matchup though. They are a long way from being a high quality defense.
Week 14 confirmed that the new 2013 Chargers offense, by comparison, is already of a playoff caliber and something the team can build on looking ahead. Believe! Go Bolts!
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* all player stats via nfl.com
** info via chargers.com