Will Blowout in KC Spark a Midseason Run?
FS Paul Oliver (Jaime Squire/Getty)
FS Paul Oliver (Jaime Squire/Getty)

Posted Oct 27, 2009
scout.com


The Chargers know they shouldn't wear out their hands back-slapping each other after slapping around the Chiefs on Sunday.

Still, for a struggling team that had players starting to question each other and the coaches, the win at Arrowhead Stadium was a breath of fresh air.

But that's only if the Chargers can build on it by climbing above the .500 mark with a win over the Raiders this Sunday.

"We've done a lot of good things the first six weeks; unfortunately our record doesn't show it," quarterback Philip Rivers said.

The Chargers know they still have some mountains to climb. Despite Sunday's win and Denver being off, the Chargers could pull to no closer than three games behind the AFC West-leading Broncos.

But just maybe the Chargers learned this on Sunday: It's not about the Broncos, it's not about being mentioned among the NFL's elite teams. Instead it's about the Chargers, and if they take care of themselves, the rest will fall into place.

The Chargers got a win and a dose of confidence. And really, this team has been lacking in confidence since the first quarter of the season opener, when the Raiders manhandled the Chargers with their physical play.

And now here come those same Raiders, who eventually lost to San Diego and have fallen on hard times.

But the Chargers can't take any rival lightly. They don't have the room for error anymore, not after starting 2-3 for the third consecutive year under coach Norv Turner.

The Chargers must hope the blowout at Kansas City can be the liftoff for a midseason run.

NOTES, QUOTES


C Scott Mruczkowski
Jaime Squire/Getty
--Shaun Phillips recorded the first sack from the team's starting outside linebackers, collecting two of the team's four sacks Sunday. "It was huge to break the ice," Phillips said. "Now we've got to get the big fella, my partner on the other side, to break the ice, too. Once we break the ice, maybe we can start rolling." Shawne Merriman, who missed all but one game last year with a knee injury, last had a sack in 2007.

--Wide receiver Vincent Jackson has long been admired by his teammates. Now that he is becoming a downfield threat, he is opening eyes around the league. Jackson set a franchise mark with 142 receiving yards in the first half against Kansas City. "He's as good as there is, in my opinion," QB Philip Rivers said. However, after Jackson's big first half, he was quiet the final 30 minutes. "I'm a competitor like that," Jackson said. "I wanted more."

--Rivers averaged almost 15 yards on his 18 completions and said the Chargers easily could have sped past the 37 points they put on the scoreboard. "Ifs and buts, I know, but it was a game where we could have scored 50-something," said Rivers, who threw for three touchdowns. "We left some scores out there."

PLAYER NOTES

--DE Travis Johnson is expected to test his ailing groin this week after re-aggravating the injury on Sunday.

--ILB Kevin Burnett (sprained ankle) will try to practice this week.

--ILB Tim Dobbins, who replaced Kevin Burnett, had a career day. Dobbins had 11 tackles and an interception.

--WR Chris Chambers continues to struggle, and he could lose more playing time to Malcom Floyd. Chambers had two more drops Sunday; he was targeted four times and didn't land a reception.

--K Nate Keating's kickoffs were noticeably short, and he misfired on a 43-yard field goal. Kaeding was battling flu-like symptoms and didn't have his usual leg strength.

REPORT CARD VS. CHIEFS


QB Philip Rivers
Jaime Squire/Getty
PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Not much to complain about here, as Philip Rivers continues to show his knack for the deep passes, clicking with Vincent Jackson for two 51-yard completions in the first half. Rivers finished with 268 passing yards -- with a long of 58 -- and three touchdowns. There were two drops from Chris Chambers and one from Antonio Gates, but for the most part the Chargers' hands were true. Kudos to the pass-blocking, as Rivers didn't get sacked once after getting sacked five times in the previous game.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus -- Some signs of life here, even if the Chargers were turned away time and again inside the Kansas City 5 yard-line. But LaDainian Tomlinson was running as well as he has all year, showing a burst to the rare running lane when it presented itself. He finished with a season-best 71 rushing yards, and the Chargers collected 135 on the ground. But there are still issues with the run-blocking.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- The secondary continues to be a mixture of fresh faces and guys getting chances they weren't having earlier in the year. Safety Eric Weddle and nickel back Steve Gregory were among the defensive backs sent on various blitzes, and each collected a sack. The pass rush was able to contribute four sacks, as Matt Cassel never looked comfortable behind the Chiefs' makeshift line. Paul Oliver, Tim Dobbins and Gregory had interceptions.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- Another week, another opponent rushing for more than 100 yards. But many of these yards came after the game's outcome was determined. Early on, the Chargers were able to bottle up Larry Johnson and stop Cassel on a critical fourth-and-1. Dobbins gives the Chargers a more physical presence inside; same goes for DT Ian Scott in the middle of the line.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Jacob Hester blocked a punt and pounced on it for a touchdown. The coverage units were keen after two returns were brought back for scores the previous week. K Nate Kaeding was under the weather but still nailed three of four field goals. Darren Sproles averaged 18 yards on punt returns, 17 yards on kickoff returns. There was big improvement here from the debacle against Denver.

COACHING: A -- It's do-or-die -- almost -- and coach Norv Turner had the team showing some grit from the opening kick. Turner also tried to establish the running game with a little more purpose, and that resulted in opening up some big strikes in the passing game. Credit goes to defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, as he sent multiple blitzes, but most of them came from the secondary, which was a fresh twist.



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