Ten Things We Learned: Chargers vs. Chiefs

WR Vincent Jackson (Doug Benc/Getty)

For the first time in a long time, the San Diego Chargers found themselves on the winning side of a close game. Now, the Bolts must grow from the experience and find a way to replicate the result on a weekly basis. SDBoltReport.com takes a look at ten things we learned during Sunday's 20-19 victory.

1. Vincent Jackson is the No. 1 receiver the Chargers have been looking for since Curtis Conway left town. Jackson posted his second-highest yardage total of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs, carving out 83 yards on five receptions. Jackson, who is on pace to top 1,100 receiving yards this season, ranks No. 5 in the NFL in yards per catch (17.7) amongst players with more than 30 receptions.

2. Antonio Gates delivered his second consecutive strong outing, confirming that he is back to his All Pro form after battling toe and hip injuries. One game after setting a season-high in yards against the New Orleans Saints (96), Gates set a season-high in receptions against the Chiefs (eight). Despite his early struggles, Gates leads all tight ends with six touchdowns and ranks in the top-five in receiving yards (469).

FB Mike Tolbert
Jeff Gross/Getty

3. Mike Tolbert's ankle looked fit after an extra week of rest. As a result, Tolbert caught his first pass since Week 4. Tolbert finished the Chiefs game with three catches for 37 yards, including a nifty 23-yard catch-and-run. However, he still struggles as a lead blocker and is often replaced by TE Brandon Manumaleuna in that capacity.

4. San Diego's offensive line must relearn how to run block effectively. The Chargers averaged just 3.5 yards per carry against a Chiefs defense that cedes a league-high 5.2. For the year, the Chargers rank No. 18 in yards per carry (3.9). The Chargers haven't averaged less than 4 yards per carry since LaDainian Tomlinson's rookie season in 2001.

5. Mike Goff is on his final legs as a Charger. He struggled to keep DT Tank Tyler out of the pocket and failed to generate movement in the running game. Although he's still a steady player and a prototypical pull-blocker, his best days are clearly behind him. Goff is in the final year of his contract. The Chargers may choose to re-sign Kynan Forney to take Goff's spot, or they may hand the spot to Scott Mruczkowski.

6. Luis Castillo authored a quiet statistical game, finishing with two tackles and no sacks, but was disruptive and won most of his matchups with underrated tackle Damion McIntosh. Four of Kansas City's 18 rushing attempts went for zero or negative yardage, and Castillo's disruptive play was a big reason why.

LB Shaun Phillips
Warren Little/Getty

7. Shaun Phillips has gone four consecutive games without a sack. Phillips hasn't gone more than four games without a sack since his rookie season in 2004. Incidentally, Phillips is on pace for his lowest sack total since his rookie year, when he posted just four sacks.

8. Ron Rivera's gameplan to limit Antonio Cromartie's snaps by using him as the nickel back didn't last long. Replacement Cletis Gordon sprained his knee early in the game, forcing Cromartie to return to the base defense. Rivera could give that plan another shot this week if Gordon is fit. Gordon has been exceptional in spot duty.

9. Quentin Jammer is the ultimate team player, so he would never admit this, but poor play by his teammates has cost him a Pro Bowl spot. Despite getting fooled on Mark Bradley's 30-yard touchdown catch, Jammer has been exceptionally steady this season both in coverage and against the run. However, there is no way voters give Jammer his first Pro Bowl nod when the Chargers rank dead last against the pass.

10. Nate Kaeding connected on both of his field goals against the Chiefs, raising his season conversion rate to 85 percent. Kaeding has never finished a season under 80 percent. He is now 17-of-20 on the season, with all three misses coming during contests the Chargers won anyway.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.

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