Antonio Gates was an unexpected scratch for the San Diego Chargers on Sunday and Ryan Mathews was also unable to play despite being cleared for contract and practicing last week. Despite missing his two biggest weapons, Philip Rivers carved through the Tennessee Titans using a combination of tight end Dante Rosario and wide receiver Malcom Floyd.
Rosario had three touchdown catches and Floyd had over 100 receiving yards on a day in which Rivers had his way with Tennessee’s defense. The Chargers defense limited running back Chris Johnson to 17 yards on eight carries and quarterback Jake Locker to 50 percent passing.
For the Chargers, the problem has rarely been the offensive production. The defense and special teams have been an issue in recent years, but if two games are any indication they are finally ready to help the Chargers get back to the playoffs.
The defense gave up just 10 points, sacked Locker three times, had one interception and gave up just 212 total yards. The defense allowed the Titans to hold the ball for just over 16 minutes.
With the defense keeping the Titans from moving the ball and scoring, the Chargers were able to get a lead and burn the clock for most of the second half. Jackie Battle was able to pad the lead with two touchdown runs in the fourth quarter.
Rivers did throw his first interception of the season, a deep pass that was wrestled away from Floyd deep down the sideline. It wasn’t a perfectly thrown pass, but was hardly a bad decision by Rivers who had one-on-one coverage and a 17-3 lead.
The Chargers left touchdowns on the field in Oakland and settled for five field goals in Week 1, but in Week 2 only settled for one short field goal.
It’s notable that the Chargers are 2-0 despite several key injuries. The Chargers should only get stronger on offense when Gates and Mathews are able to play.
For the first time in many years San Diego may also have the defense and special teams that make them a complete team and legitimate playoff contender. Norv Turner’s seat has cooled and if the Chargers keep playing like they have through two weeks, the talk will shift from to the Chargers being legitimate super bowl contenders.