Winner: Melvin Ingram
What a debut for the Chargers' 2012 first-round selection.
Melvin Ingram started the game with an offside penalty—although they called it on Takeo Spikes—but they quickly recovered. In the following minute, Ingram forced a fumble and stopped the Raiders drive, giving San Diego the football. Throughout the night, No. 54 was constantly jumping the snap count and putting pressure on Carson Palmer.
Melvin Ingram will be a star in no time.
Loser: Red-Zone Offense
Struggles in the red zone continued in the 2012 season opener for the San Diego Chargers. On their five trips inside the 20, the Chargers scored only one touchdown, with Nate Kaeding booting in four field goals.
The offense had no problem getting into the red zone. Philip Rivers was almost perfect on throws outside the 20, but he couldn't complete the passes into the end zone. This is definitely an area of concern, and the Chargers will work hard to fix this problem.
Winner: Offensive Line
For the first time in a couple of seasons, Philip Rivers was protected fairly well. With Jared Gaither out, Mike Harris became the second undrafted rookie to start at left tackle in Week 1. All of the criticism before the game must have fueled Harris. His play was outstanding, as was the entire offensive line.
With the Raiders' fierce pass rush, San Diego's protection shocked many on Monday night.
Loser: Run Game
Thirty-four total rushing yards for the game.
And it was only 34 because of the end-around run by Eddie Royal early in the game, where he gained 11.
Ronnie Brown, who was said to take the fair share of the carries with Ryan Mathews out, ran the ball five times for a whopping total of five yards. Curtis Brinkley had double the carries of Brown (10), yet only had 12 yards. But the Chargers got the win with such a terrible run game—which is all that matters.
Ryan Mathews will be back soon, so this isn't much to worry about.
Winner: Special Teams/Nate Kaeding
#Chargers special teams is huge tonight. Like watching early 2000s Virginia Tech.—Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) September 11, 2012
The Chargers ended the game with a blocked punt, two tackles on the punter and six touchbacks. It was a great game for San Diego's special teams.
A kicker has never won the Comeback Player of the Year award. Could this be the season? Nate Kaeding, after missing all of 2011 with a torn ACL, had six touchbacks and five field goals in his first game back. Not only did he have five field goals, every one of them were crisp and down the middle. It was a feel-good moment for San Diego to have a healthy Nate Kaeding, who happens to be the most accurate regular-season kicker in the history of the NFL.
Loser: Norv Turner
Norv Turner never seems to entice me. His lack of guts in the red zone, terrible play calling (even though he's some kind of offensive genius) and his unusual decision to end the game should worry fans.
On multiple 4th-and-1s inside the 10, Norv Turner failed to go for it. Some may say it's smart, but it also shows no faith in both the offense or defense. The Chargers ended the game with a kneel on third down and a delay of game on fourth. There were three seconds left in the game, and San Diego faced fourth down. Instead of just kneeling or throwing the ball out of bounds, which would've easily wasted three seconds off the clock, Norv Turner decided to punt the ball. Luckily, nothing game-changing occurred, and the San Diego Chargers improved to 1-0.
If that punt had been blocked and returned for a touchdown, Dean Spanos should have fired Norv Turner on the spot.You know that pains me.— UTKevinAcee (@UTKevinAcee) September 11, 2012
Final Score: Chargers 22, Raiders 14