On a day where everyone was against the San Diego Chargers, they came out and played like a team that deserved to be in the playoffs with the NFL‘s elite teams. It would have been fitting if the theme from the Rocky movies played when they came out of the tunnel, because they were a major underdog on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Still, that wasn’t nearly enough to agitate the confidence of the Chargers on Sunday afternoon.
Their upset victory was fueled by multiple sources on the team. There was the efficient quarterbacking of Philip Rivers, the solid running game established by Danny Woodhead, Ronnie Brown and Ryan Mathews, or the solid coverage by the Chargers’ defensive backs. Still, neither of those factors was as game-changing as Melvin Ingram‘s efforts on the field.
The Chargers drafted Ingram in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He had a very disappointing rookie campaign where he finished the year with only one sack. He worked his tail off in the 2012 offseason, looking more dedicated and willing to improve as a player.
However, things eventually got worse for Ingram after he tore his ACL before the start of this season. The Chargers felt he could get healthy enough to play before the playoffs came, and Ingram did just that. Still, his impact on the field was expected to be minimal.
Ingram had to be going into his first playoff game knowing that he could possibly breathe new life into his slipping career if he had a good game. With his back against the wall and his team’s chances of advancing to the next round hanging in the balance, Ingram stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. He dug deep and found that player that we all knew he was capable of being.
I honestly don’t know if the Chargers could have won this game if it weren’t for Ingram’s huge impact on the field. We know that Eric Weddle is the leader of the Chargers’ defense, but Ingram was the game-changer today. He constantly disrupted the flow of the Bengals’ offense. He did not register a sack on the day, but I think he made everyone lose count of how many times he made his way into the backfield, forcing errant passes that led to turnovers.
Ingram also generated a turnover of his own — a late game-changing interception that helped the Chargers close the door on this chapter of their season.
The Bolts defied all odds and earned themselves another chance to inch even closer to that elusive Vince Lombardi trophy. It will not be any easy task as they find themselves facing off against Peyton Manning and the high-octane offense of the Denver Broncos. If they are going to do what most don’t believe they will — win this game — then they will need Ingram to be the player fans saw on the field against the Bengals.
Do I think he can mirror his performance? Yes. Why? Because you could just see how badly he wanted to make a difference in this game, and it paid off. I expect big things from him on Sunday and even further down the road.