A bevy of early mistakes in Week 5 never allowed the San Diego Chargers the opportunity to gag away a lead over the division rival Oakland Raiders. While the game took place when the majority of the country was already in bed, it seemed like the Chargers themselves were actually the ones sleepwalking in their 27-17 defeat at the hands of their AFC West rivals.
Eddie Royal and Danny Woodhead both lost fumbles while quarterback Philip Rivers’ performance brought the best (or worst) of both worlds as he had his third 400-yard passing game and also threw the ball to the wrong team three times.
As pointed out leading up to the game, Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor was the X-factor on the night. His performance really tipped the game in favor of the home team and no because of stellar numbers. While his efficient 18-of-23 passing for 221 yards and two touchdowns along with 11 runs for 31 yards were solid, what gave Oakland the advantage was his ability to protect the football. The turnover differential was the clear difference with San Diego’s ridiculous five giveaways to the Raiders’ zero.
The true turning point in this one actually may have been the concussion suffered by running back Ryan Mathews early in the contest. After three carries for just eight yards, Mathews was forced from the game and his replacements in Woodhead and Ronnie Brown proved absolutely incapable of carrying the load themselves. Brown’s seven carries for 11 yards and Woodhead’s nine totes for 13 yards were practically useless as the Chargers became one-dimensional very quickly. Their 19 carries for a total of just 32 yards on the ground for the game only underscored the need for balance moving forward.
Now it’s back to the drawing board once again for Mike McCoy and company as they have successfully alternated wins with losses all season long. What really stands out for this team at this juncture is the continued issues with ball security. At a -8 in turnover differential on the year, only three teams in the NFL have been worse to this point and unsurprisingly two of those clubs (New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers) are winless.
Cleaning up these costly mental errors will be crucial as this team heads into the meat of its schedule coming up. This loss parks the Bolts in the AFC West basement for the time being, but they do still have five divisional games remaining. The season is not lost just yet, but if the turnover train continues to roll it could get off the tracks in a hurry.