Texans vs. Chargers: Takeaways from San Diego's 31-28 Loss to Houston
After going up 21-7 at halftime, the Chargers left the door wide open for a Texans comeback in the second half reminiscent of a similar showing against the Denver Broncos last season when Peyton Manning helped his team score 35 unanswered points on Monday Night Football.
While the loss may sting for the rest of the week, there were still some good things to pull from the matchup with Houston.
The Offensive Line Played Well
The offensive line gave up just two sacks to the Texans, and none of them came from J.J. Watt.
Philip Rivers actually had some time in the pocket for once, and he capitalized on it with a rare four-touchdown performance throwing the ball. D.J. Fluker was very impressive in his debut and handled Watt one-on-one like a champ at times.
The holes in the running game were also quite good at times, but the second half was another story. As momentum shifted, the line had trouble springing Ryan Mathews free or keeping pressure off of Rivers.
Vincent Brown with a Nice Return
Vincent Brown had just two receptions on the night, but one of them was for a touchdown right before the half.
After missing all of last season with a broken ankle, it's good to see Brown making plays on offense early. As the season progresses he'll get better, but it's going to take some time. Brown is playing in just his second regular season if you recall.
Bront Bird in Place of Manti Te'o
Bront Bird led the team in tackles against the Texans and made a pivotal fourth-down stop on Arian Foster for a turnover on downs.
Bird isn't even a normal starter on defense, but he came up with some big stops on defense. What that means for the Chargers is they have time to rest Manti Te'o. There really doesn't need to be any sort of rush to bring the second-round pick back if his foot injury is still an issue.
Antonio Gates Still Effective
Antonio Gates hasn't lost a step at his age. The San Diego tight end had two catches for 49 yards and found a lot of open space when he had the ball.
It was a little surprising the Chargers didn't look to the 33-year-old more often, but his performance was solid nonetheless. I would have liked to see more targets go his way in the second half when the Chargers were struggling to get first downs.
Mike McCoy Not Bad in His Debut
Mike McCoy didn't get the win in his coaching debut for the Chargers, but his team hung in there with an AFC powerhouse for most of the game.
Obviously, there has to be some adjustments made in regard to what happened in the second half, but not bad for his first game.
I really liked his aggressive play-calling in the first half and it paid off, but everything changed when Brian Cushing had the pick-six in the fourth quarter. The Chargers opted to throw for a first down and once again Rivers struggled under pressure.
I couldn't help but wonder why McCoy didn't try to run off some clock and play a conservative style.
Eddie Royal of Old
Eddie Royal had three catches and two touchdowns in Monday's loss and has shown that he can be the receiver of old again.
Royal had a bust year in 2012, but he looked like a completely different player when healthy. Rivers found his receiver in the corner of the end zone and a short crossing pattern.
If Royal can play like this all season, then the Chargers don't have to worry too much about the loss of Danario Alexander.
Tale of Two Halves for Defense
San Diego's first-half defense was tremendous. Right out of the gate, Cam Thomas got an interception that led to a touchdown and the Chargers are able to hold the Texans to just seven points in the first half.
Then, of course, the defense completely fell apart in the second half and allowed 17 points to Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels. San Diego didn't have an answer for Johnson in the second half, who finished with 12 catches for 146 yards.
A lot of mistakes with penalties hurt the defense as well. The flag on Thomas for making contact with the center on the field-goal attempt was unacceptable. It ended up costing the Chargers seven points and shifted momentum to the Texans.
This defense better get ready and prepare for a fast-paced Philadelphia offense in Week 2.
Philip Rivers Shines, Then Crumbles
Phil, Phil, Phil. Why again? Rivers was absolutely torching Houston's defense on his way to a four-touchdown game, but his interception to Cushing for a touchdown just crushed his team's chances.
When the game is on the line, Rivers has historically made bad decisions with the football, and Monday night was no different. It was great to see the Rivers of old sling the ball around for scores, but when he threw that interception, it was like the life was sucked right out of the stadium.
The positive here is that he can still make plays and be an accurate passer, but the turnovers are still a problem. McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt will need to continue preparing him for second-half scenarios like that.