As the San Diego Chargers prepared themselves for their Sunday afternoon tilt with the New York Jets, the team faced many questions about lack of effort from last weekend’s drubbing. The Bolts fell behind 31-0 to the then 4-9 Carolina Panthers and really looked mentally disinterested from the start. Against the Jets in week 16, the team was ready to put those questions to rest.
Prior to the game, center Nick Hardwick said: “It looks bad, but it’s not because of a lack of care, or a lack of preparation, or a lack of motivation or enthusiasm. We were ready to play football, no doubt.” Tight end Antonio Gates chimed in as well saying: “I know it looked like we didn’t care.”
So this week at least it didn’t look like they didn’t care in their 27-17 victory, but it wasn’t much better as a viewer. There was clear lack of concentration, attention to detail, or whatever other cliché you want to throw out there with the early penalties on the Bolts. With less than 450 total yards combined between these two downward trending teams, clearly the most watchable moment was Michael Spurlock’s 63-yard punt return touchdown.
As much as it was a difficult game to watch, the San Diego defense made it a bit more tolerable as well. They never let up on that side of the ball sacking Greg McElroy 10 times and those numbers included several from the young, promising players on the Bolts D. Rookie defensive end Kendall Reyes had a coming out party of sorts with 3.5 sacks of his own, fellow rookies Melvin Ingram and Brandon Taylor shared a sack, while second-year stud Corey Liuget had a full sack and third-year inside linebacker Donald Butler recorded another. This performance will serve as a notice that Liuget and Reyes are going to be among the elite 3-4 ends in the league next season.
It’s hard to find anything positive to focus on when a team like the Chargers with such high expectations coming into the season is going to be watching the playoffs from home in a few weeks, but there are at least a few bright spots to hold on to. They certainly didn’t quit this week and heading into the season finale against the hated rival Oakland Raiders, don’t expect any letup in that one either.
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