San Diego Chargers: Defense Top in the NFL for Week One

Cameron WardContributor IIISeptember 13, 2011

The No. 1 defense in the league last year picked up where they left off against the Vikings on opening day at Qualcomm Stadium.

Every player was flying to the ball. The defensive line was carving up the Vikings offensive line. The cornerbacks broke up multiple passes. The linebackers swarmed Adrian Peterson. The safeties shut down Peterson at the second level.

The Chargers defense went largely unnoticed in Week 1. No one talked about how they only gave up 10 points and the least amount of total yards (187 total yards) in Week 1. They shut down the best running back in the league, holding Peterson to only 98 yards (half of those yards came on a 47-yard scamper).

The defense only allowed the Vikings 43 plays on offense, the lowest total for any offense in Week 1. The Chargers also allowed only two first downs in the second half and 10 total first downs for the game, which was also the lowest total allowed in the NFL's opening week.

As far as personnel goes, the three newest starting Chargers (Bob Sanders, Takeo Spikes and Donald Butler) led the team in total tackles. Sanders (six total tackles) looked to be back in Pro Bowl form, flying in multiple times to stuff Peterson at the line.

Spikes (eleven total tackles) commanded the defense with ease and led the team in tackles. In his first career game, Butler (six total tackles) tied Spikes for most solo tackles (six) and was very impressive against a great Vikings run game.

Antoine Cason may have been the player of the game. He had three pass deflections that would have all resulted in first downs. He made a great play on a deep ball to Bernard Berrian after he was initially beat deep down the sidelines. Quentin Jammer was not thrown at all game, although he was very good in run support with three solo tackles (which was tied for third on the team).

Let's not forget the the Chargers pass rush was outstanding. Antwan Barnes and Shaun Philips can share OLB of the game. Philips had a tip and interception on the Vikings' first play from scrimmage after they went up 7-0 on the Percy Harvin kick return.

Barnes looked lightening fast off the edge as he recorded one sack and one QB hit in his limited playing time. That sack came in the Vikings' final drive and caused them to punt with only three minutes left. Look for Barnes' playing time to increase.

The Chargers' defense won this game. With Philip Rivers struggling by his standards with two interceptions, the defense really stepped up and shut down the Vikings and Adrian Peterson.

Defense wins championships...