The San Diego Chargers knew they needed Ryan Mathews coming into the game. Their success was tied together through the tail end of the season. And Mathews’ play is the reason why the Chargers got the chance to play in Denver for the second time. But his noticeable absence played out exactly the same way that LaDainian Tomlinson’s absence in the 2007 AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, played out.
No LT? Game over.
Mathews needed to help stretch the game for the Chargers, because the backs weren’t converting third downs. Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown weren’t good enough to keep the chains moving. Glimpses of today’s gameplan were apparent during last week’s Cincinatti game. Darren Sproles and Michael Turner 2.0 weren’t going to cut it.
The Chargers stuck with the run game far too often. They weren’t adjusting to an offense that Ken Whisenhunt crafted for Philip Rivers. Their comeback attempt was too futile, too late. And it didn’t help that the right side of the offensive line was giving up sacks to the Denver defense. Jeromey Clary was as big of loss as they switched to Johnnie Troutman, who has struggled at the professional level.
The defense wasn’t stellar, but they did their job. Creating turnovers and holding Peyton Manning under 300 yards was all a part of their plan. The Chargers’ offense didn’t capitalize on the turnovers, and that was the death of them.
Bottom line is that this team needed Mathews. This game played right into the Denver Broncos’ hands.