San Diego Chargers' Weekly Recap: Game Two, at Denver Broncos
Result: L, 39-38
Rivers (QB) — 21/33, 377 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Tomlinson (RB) — 10 att, 26 yds; 2 rec, 14 yds
Tolbert (FB) — 1 att, 1 yd; 2 rec, 68 yds
Chambers (WR) — 4 rec, 83 yds, 2 TD
Jackson (WR) — 6 rec, 73 yds
Gates (TE) — 4 rec, 61 yds
Sproles (RB) — 7 att, 53 yds; 2 rec, 72 yds, TD
Naanee (FB/TE) — 1 rec, 6 yds
Castillo (LE) — 1 tack
Williams (NT) — 1 tack
Olshansky (RE) — 1 ast
Tucker (ROLB) — 1 tack
Smith (MLB) — 3 tack
Wilhelm (MLB) — 6 tack
Phillips (LOLB) — 1 tack
Jammer (CB) — 10 tack
Cromartie (CB) — 3 tack
Hart (SS) — 2 tack
Weddle (FS) — 3 tack
Gregory (CB) — 8 tack
Cason (CB) — 2 tack, 1 INT
Sproles (KR) — 5 KR, 192 yds, TD
Davis (PR) — 2 PR, 15 yds
Kaeding (K) — 3/3 FG, 3/3 XP
Scifres (P) — 1 punt, 52 yds
The Good — This would have been a spectacular comeback victory for San Diego had the defense not broken in the final drive (with a lot of help from the referees). Philip Rivers was spectacular, reaching almost 400 yards on 21 completions and keeping the Chargers in the game for 60 minutes.
Darren Sproles stepped up after LT went re-injured his big toe and collaborated with two long touchdowns, one on a kick return and the other on a short pass in which he ran circles around the Denver defense.
Chris Chambers had a big game and cemented his status as the team's #1 WR. With Antonio Gates still limited, Chambers has given Rivers a reliable big play target.
The Bad — Defensively, San Diego was unable to stop the run nor the pass. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall cut up the Chargers' secondary the entire game and three Denver running backs combined to rack up nearly 150 rushing yards.
Again, the final drive featured a soft, relenting San Diego defense which utilized the controversial "Prevent" style, allowing the Broncos to march down the field and set up what would be the game-winning score.
The Ugly — Do I really have to say? The referees were pitiful in this game. Two crucial calls going against San Diego resulted in a total of 15 Denver points, and ticky-tack penalties gave the Broncos huge chunks of yardage.
Antonio Cromartie allowing 18 catches? That's ugly. No sacks on the QB? That's ugly. When your starting front three account for a grand total of three tackles in the entire game, that's ugly.
Telling Stat — 34: The amount of first-downs in the game for Denver, who ran (and passed) over San Diego's defense all game long. Five of those first-downs came from SD penalties.
MVP: Darren Sproles — His explosive play and huge gains kept San Diego in the game in the second half and proved that even though LaDainian Tomlinson might not be at 100%, the Chargers can rest easy knowing Sproles can fill LT's massive shoes.
LVP: Antonio Cromartie — A hip injury coupled with excessive trash talking in the days prior to the game (that fired up the Bronco offense) resulted in Antonio's worst game as a professional. He allowed nearly half of Jay Cutler's total completions.
Offense: (B) — Fantastic efforts from Rivers, Sproles, Chambers, Tolbert and Jackson; however, San Diego had a couple of drives die inside the red zone, settling for three when they could have had seven.
Defense: (F) — No pressure on the QB, a weak run defense, terrible pass coverage and an utter inability to show up in crucial situations. Need I say more?
Special Teams: (A) — I'm hopping on the Darren Sproles bandwagon. If he finishes the season sans injury, I owe him a written apology.
Coaching: (D) — Offensive strategy was acceptable, and excelled only because of the individual talent on the field. Defense was a disaster, and a better second half effort was negated due to the repeated usage of the "prevent" defense, even after the Week 1 debacle.
No looking back now guys. Either you find a way to beat the Jets, or you're standing in the hole with the ground squarely at eye level. Favre will be looking to repeat victories over San Diego after thrashing the Bolts in Green Bay last season.
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