Chargers point it forward in win

SAN DIEGO-Everything went right for for the San Diego Chargers against Detroit Lions. Good defense. Being sharp on the offensive end. rookie running back Melvin Gordon looked frisky and one big-play waiting to happen. Snapping up a victory at Qualcomm Stadium in the season’s first regular season game of the 2015 season is a good start for the Chargers. Now they just have keep it going for the next 15 games.

On a day where wide receiver Keenan Allen upstaged the Lions’ Calvin “Megatron” Johnson,  it was the Chargers defense that roared the loudest in this non-division game. For the Chargers to have and to pursue any type of Super Bowl ambitions, the work of their defensive unit will be the most critical component to that aspiration.

That unit showed they have the moxie to get things down.

Those 28 points that the Lions scored against the Chargers is somewhat misleading. When the Lions manned a 21-3 second quarter lead, they had one drive that went the length of the field (80 yards) and included a interception return for a touchdown to help them pad that lead. It may have been worse, but the Chargers holding Johnson to just two catches for 39 yards, kept the Lions in check in the scoring department until the final drive of the game.

That was where the ballgame was won. Sure, Allen came up huge while collecting 15 catches for 166 yards in burning the Lions’ defense with one great catch after another, the Eric Weddle-led defense virtually shut down Matthew Stafford and the high-powered Detroit offense. Stafford’s passing rating for the game was a lukewarm 83.5.

Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen is all smiles after catching 15 passes for 166 yards against the Detroit Lions. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/
Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen is all smiles after catching 15 passes for 166 yards against the Detroit Lions. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/

On the flip side, Philip Rivers compiled a passer rating of 102.8, while passing for 388 yards and two touchdowns. Rivers completed a stupendous 35 passes out of 42 attempts. It was an impressive performance by Rivers and the offense considering they faced an 18-point deficit in the first half. Rivers then went to work and did most of damage after the Lions had mustard that 18-point lead.

Rivers and the Chargers would score 30 straight points before the Lions tried to make things look more decent on the scoreboard with their last touchdown with just over a minute left in the game. Better luck next time, Lions fans. What the Chargers established in the win was something that has been missing the last couple of seasons: balance. The tone of the Chargers defense is not coincidental or by accident.

This is an improved unit. And to even be thought about in the discussion of going deep into the posteason the very first thing that comes up is play by the team’s defense. The challenge for this defense is to take that kind of performance on the road as well as it is more easily sustained in front of your home fans.

Weddle, Donald Butler, Melvin Ingram, Jimmy Wilson, Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett give the Chargers range, depth and upgraded speed at the linebacker and secondary, which is a critical component to defending against pass-happy offenses in the AFC and around the league. The next two weeks against Cincinnati and Minnesota, the gauge on just how much the Chargers’ defense has improved will be up and running.


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