Posted November 01, 2012

Still hard to say if Chargers are for real, despite Thursday night romp

Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers

Antonio Gates capped the Chargers’ opening drive with a 14-yard TD catch (Donald Miralle/Getty Images).

Watching the San Diego Chargers is an exercise in frustration. A hand-wringing, eyebrow-raising experience that just leaves you wondering how the Chargers can be so maddeningly inconsistent.

And that’s when they win.

San Diego’s first drive in a 31-13 romp over the hapless Chiefs on Thursday night was clinical. The Chargers took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards on seven plays, with Philip Rivers delivering a pinpoint pass to Seyi Ajirotutu and then a pair to Antonio Gates, the second of which resulted in a touchdown.

A couple of hours later, after the Chiefs pulled within 10-6 late in the third quarter, the Chargers carved up K.C.’s defense with an eight-play drive that featured seven straight runs and, finally, a TD pass from Rivers to Malcom Floyd.

Add in a pair of defensive touchdowns and the now 4-4 Chargers had the look of a team that could compete for an AFC West title.

But we’ve been down this road before, haven’t we?

Even Thursday, before they sealed down their victory, the Chargers had to first get out of their own way. Rivers took points off the board late in the first half by throwing an egregious end-zone interception and Eric Weddle fumbled away a punt in the third quarter.

The Chargers could be very good … if only they weren’t so bad on occasion.

“We know how good we can be,” Mathews told the NFL Network after the game. “We let some games slide and beat ourselves.”

Of course, part of figuring out this game’s result is deciding how much blame to lay on the Chiefs.

My word, those Chiefs.

They fell to 1-7 on the season with this loss and (if it wasn’t true, I wouldn’t believe it) have still not led at any point during a game this season. With each passing week, their lone win over New Orleans — won on an overtime field goal — becomes more and more unfathomable.

The Chiefs trailed by 18 points in that game. In the second half. On the road.

How ridiculous does that comeback look now? When the Chargers’ defense put up its second touchdown Thursday, that matched the Chiefs’ total TD output over their past four games. A late, meaningless Shaun Draughn scoring run broke that dubious tie, but you get the idea.

If not for Kansas City’s Week 2 win, we’d be talking about the possibility of this team joining the 2008 Detroit Lions in 0-16 infamy.

As it is, the Chiefs have eight games left to decide which of their current pieces can help turn things around in 2013. QB Matt Cassel’s role feels increasingly in jeopardy, as does the safety of coach Romeo Crennel’s job.

San Diego’s Norv Turner knows all about being on the hot seat. Heck, he’s probably there right now, even as he continues to roll off the chopping block each offseason.

The difference between his situation and Crennel’s, currently, is that Turner’s team, for all its warts, is just a half-game back in the AFC West and remains very much in the postseason discussion.

“The message is just keep on playing, you never know what’s going to happen,” defensive end Shaun Phillips said. “The bottom line is this: We get paid to play 16 games, so we’ll go out and play 16 games and see what happens in the end.”

So, which Chargers team are we going to get for the last eight weeks of the season?

There is no way to answer that without knowing how Rivers will play on a week-in, week-out basis.

Against the Chiefs on Thursday, he hit on 18-of-20 passes — a 90-percent completion rate, breaking Drew Brees’ previous franchise record of 88 percent (minimum 20 attempts). Both of his touchdown passes were brilliant, dropped exactly where only Rivers’ receivers could make the grabs.

Rivers’ job becomes much easier when San Diego’s ground game operates the way it did in that fourth-quarter scoring drive. Before Rivers hit Floyd for six, Ryan Mathews, Jackie Battle and Ronnie Brown chewed up 67 yards on seven carries — with 31 yards coming from Mathews on the first play of the possession.

“With Philip, how he plays, if the run game gets going,” Mathews said, “Philip feeds off that and the entire team gets going.”

Getting going is one thing. Maintaining some semblance of positive momentum is another.

The Chargers have reached the halfway point of their season with the AFC West title well within their grasp. Can they keep their act together long enough to get the job done?

“I just think we beat ourselves, that’s it,” Mathews said. “If we do what we did (Thursday), we’ll be good for the rest of the season.”

10 comments
Dana2
Dana2

The coach is weak, the defense mediocre at best, and the qb inconsistent.    Add to that the history of choking in the clutch and down the stretch, and you get a team that will be lucky to compete for the last wildcard spot, if that.

 

Mongo not impressed.

bajafox
bajafox

“If we do what we did (Thursday), we’ll be good for the rest of the season.”

 

That's a big IF Mathews, not to mention IF you can hold on to the ball and not cough it up every 42 carries.

David50
David50

the chargers will be for real if they win there next 4 games

Qpodad
Qpodad

in the losses the SD O line was not up to the task on pass play, with Rivers feeling pressure in < 2 seconds over and over. However, last night Rivers had 3+ seconds to throw (I was at the game and timed a lot of snaps) and he went 18-20 with one throwaway and one dumb pick. Clary played very well. Gaither looked like he is getting dinged up, and it showed on the back to back sack by Hali the holding Hali. (Of course, Hali is a great speed rusher who has beaten may solid O linemen over his career) But the additional time to pass was the true difference bewteen wins and losses. The QB gets too much credit and blame; the QB's fortunes always rise and fall with the big uglies in front. Lets hope Rivers took his O Line out to Donovans for steaks after last night! Of course, the KC D is not good, so can't really read too much into it.

paul25
paul25

WOW! So many negative comments after a win. The Chargers are a half game out of first place. The are in the exact same position as the Packers, Steelers, Dolphins, and Vikings.

The Dude
The Dude

Chargers stink. They have been in a downward spiral since Norv took over. With him at the helm they will be lucky to reach the mediocre .500 mark they've barely reached the last two years.

aufklarung52
aufklarung52

How do these two HCs keep their jobs? Year after year Turner dangles over the precipice; Crennal was a poor coach in Cleveland and an even worse one in KC. Fire these two and spare the rest of us the agony.

fading
fading

Getting rid of turner and smith this offseason will go a long way in making the chargers better. Marty finish his last season with the chargers 14-2 and that didn't save him. Norv hasn't done anything that has shown us chargers fan he's the right coach for the team.

jj55
jj55

If the Chargers ever figure out that games played in September and October count in the standings, they'll be hard to beat. Until then...

fading
fading

 @Qpodad

The only thing i'm looking forward to for the chargers season is for it to end. Then turner and smith can be kick to the curb and better coach and gm can be brought in. Spend a first round draft choice on a true LT, find rb helps because it obviously seem like matthew is not the answer at rb otherwise he wouldn't be splitting carries, and find a future replacement for gates, and a cb. Time to rebuild the line again.