Yes, it was another second-half collapse. Yes, it was another game lost by a field goal. Yes, things were supposed to be different with Norv Turner out and Mike McCoy in. But did you really expect the San Diego Chargers to beat a Super Bowl contender like the Houston Texans?
Don’t even compare this to last season’s 35-24 loss to the Denver Broncos on national television in which they allowed 35 straight points to end the game. At least Philip Rivers and the Chargers didn’t completely unravel against the Texans like they did in that one.
This time around, the Chargers just couldn’t move the ball in the second half. Credit the Texans for taking away the running game, and for JJ Watt’s patented swat on third down, and Brian Cushing’s incredible diving interception. That’s just a good defense being a good defense and great players making great plays. Not a whole lot could’ve been done differently, at least on those two plays.
Just imagine if it the halves were swapped and it were the Texans who dominated the first half and the Chargers who dominated the second half, but still lost. Of course you can’t do that in the NFL (and being clutch in the second half is part of the game), but if you could, we’d be singing Rivers’ praises for his four touchdown performance in a losing effort. Despite struggling after his fourth touchdown, Rivers was exceptional overall, leading long drives and converting on multiple third downs. The most impressive thing Rivers did though was manipulate the pocket, stepping up and making accurate throws to his receivers. He also was much more careful with the football, making good decisions and holding onto the ball with two hands when defenders were around him.
The Chargers defense also looked good… when they weren’t gassed. In the first half, the pass rush, led by Dwight Freeney, got constant pressure on Matt Schaub. Eric Weddle, Donald Butler and Jarret Johnson also had good games. Despite allowing 24 second-half points, they can’t be blamed for this loss considering how much they were on the field.
Though this game will mostly be looked at as yet another second-half collapse for the Chargers, it should be looked at as what the Chargers can be if they can get their offense straightened out more consistently. If the Chargers can figure out how to get some first downs and control the clock when they have a lead, they can be a very good team.