Running Game Continues to Fuel San Diego Chargers’ Improbable Push for a Playoff Berth

By Anthony Blake
Ryan Mathews San Diego Chargers
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Asking the San Diego Chargers to learn from their mistakes is often times an exercise in futility. The one correction the Bolts needed to make from their Week 5 contest with the Oakland Raiders was to avoid turnovers that ultimately cost them that game. Although that was likely what they set out to do, they still managed to make things awfully interesting – and I don’t mean that in a good way.

The fingernail feast began early on for fans of the Bolts with an odd incident where quarterback Philip Rivers was directing traffic early in the second quarter and the ball was snapped when he wasn’t expecting it. After the pigskin struck him in the stomach, it settled onto the turf where the Raiders would get a crucial recovery. The ensuing drive resulted in a touchdown for the Raiders which seemed to be a ‘stop me when you’ve heard this one before’ type of moment.

Fortunately the Chargers managed to force some mistakes by the Raiders as well in this particular game unlike their previous encounter back at the beginning of October. It was actually a flip the script type of game for the Bolts this time around as the lone interception thrown by Matt McGloin led to a San Diego touchdown on the ensuing drive, and a costly fumbled kickoff set the Bolts up in the red zone for a short field goal drive. Those 10 points proved to

Another aspect of the game that really changed in this installment of the Chargers-Raiders rivalry was the balance on offense that the Bolts displayed on Sunday. Ryan Mathews carried 25 times for 99 yards and fell just one yard shy of his sixth 100-yard rushing outing in his last 10 games. In his previous 43 games the back only surpassed 100 yards on five occasions so his consistency of late has been huge. Danny Woodhead continues to provide some amazing versatility to the running game as well as he gained 52 yards of his own on the ground on eight totes. The Raiders’ run defense was ranked No. 8 in the NFL coming into the game allowing just 103.9 yards per game, but the Chargers rolled up 149 yards between the combo of Woodhead and Mathews.

With the favorable results in the Miami Dolphins’ loss to the Buffalo Bills and the Baltimore Ravens falling to the New England Patriots, the Chargers still have a pulse in the AFC Wild Card chase. Though the loss in Miami back in Week 11 still makes the push for a playoff berth an uphill battle, the Bolts could still feasibly find themselves playing meaningful football in January after three years without playoff football. If the results from this Sunday are any indication, both watching the Chargers’ game and the scoreboard in Week 17 will be worthwhile activities if you like a little pigskin drama.

Anthony Blake is a Senior Writer/Copy Editor for Rant Sports. You Can Follow Him on Twitter, on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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