Full breakdown and analysis from tonight's game to come early this week, but I wanted to vent just a bit before calling it a weekend.
I hate to say it, but the better team won tonight. We certainly made some mistakes (I'm still scratching my head over that flea flicker on 3rd and 1), but for the most part, our problem was not turnovers. It was the defense.
Many of us thought that Phillip Rivers would have a hard time getting into enough of a rhythm against our defense--it didn't work out that way, at least in the second half.
The drive Rivers engineered towards the end of the first half was a foretaste of the feast to come for the San Diego offense. Rivers deliverd perfect ball after perfect ball for the entire second half, and to their credit, their play calling kept our blitzes from being as effective as they were in the first half.
It's not that our offense played terribly in the second half (although it sure didn't look great); rather, we simply couldn't get on the field. We only really had three meaningful drives in the entire 2nd half. Our fourth drive came with only 1 minute remaining in the game down two scores. How can you establish any sort of offensive continuity and sustained momentum when you are brutalized so badly in the time of possession category. Much of the blame has to fall on the defense.
That said, we got beat by a career performance tonight. Phillip Rivers was unconscious for the final 35 minutes or so of the contest. Many of his incompletions in the first half came on dropped passes by his receivers. Had those been caught, his numbers would have been even more gaudy than they already were (24-37, 242 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT). What can you say? Every time the Chargers needed a big play, he delivered the ball on time in places where our defenders not only could not make plays, but they couldn't even make big hits on the SD receivers. We simply were on the defensive all night.
Tackling wasn't really an issue; we didn't give up many big plays in the running game, except for the big third down scramble by Rivers late in the 4th quarter. Our pass coverage on the other hand, flat out stunk. Keenon McCardell, Eric Parker and Antonio Gates were open all night. On first impression, it didn't seem as if we were anticipating their routes whatsoever. We were reacting not being agressive. Part of that was due to the fact that the Chargers' OL did a MUCH better job in the 2nd half protecting Rivers. No matter how many guys we sent at him, they picked just about everybody up before we could force Rivers into mistakes, or at worse, early throws. Hat tip to their line for making the proper adjustments at halftime to contain our blitz packages.
Enough for now. I'm fuming and combing the schedule to see if there's any relief in sight. Fortunately, we have a home game against an average Kansas City Chiefs team. Sure they've won two in a row, but if we can't find a way to get back on track next Sunday at home, it will be fairly clear that this team is not poised for a playoff run in 2006.