By Chris Lambos
The San Diego Chargers broke a spell on this Halloween edition of Sunday NFL action, proving that their many team strengths and talents are no trick – even on ‘special teams’. Unfortunately for the Tennessee Titans, this game was no treat.
Titans fans watched a few injuries and a host of mistakes take the Pacific winds out of the team’s 5-2 sales at Qualcomm Stadium this afternoon. They also watched an underachieving AFC West team perform an on-field exorcism of ‘blundering spirits’ in order to regroup from a 19-7 second quarter deficit. Fighting off a late Titans rally in the fourth quarter, the Chargers went on to post a 33-25 victory, breaking the teams three game losing streak.
The now 3-5 Chargers had lost five of their first seven games, mostly due to special teams gaffes. The team as well as their coach, Norv Turner, has been under intense pressure by fans and local media to come up with one reasonable explanation as to why a franchise with so much talent could have such a poor record (this side of Dallas, Texas). After all, this team led the NFL in offense and defense going into today’s matchup. But most thought it was just a matter of time before the team would win again. With so many assets on offense and defense, they really don’t have to rely on the Halloween holiday to ‘spook’ the opponent into the loss column.
San Diego beat the Titans two ways today: 1) A punishing physical running game. Mike Tolbert is a human bowling ball. Darren Sproles is as fast as a CAT and as strong as a CAT BULLDOZER. Ryan Mathews, the Rookie out of Fresno State is averaging 4.4 yards per carry. This might be the best trio of running backs in professional football. 2) Antonio Gates The Titans did not have answer on how to contain one of the league’s best tight ends as he generated 123 yards on 5 catches and scored on a 48-yard TD.
Worth noting here that Philip Rivers threw for over 300 yards today – his fifth 300 yard game of the season. Rivers also passed Dan Fouts in the NFL record books for the most yards passed in 8 seasons
For Tennessee, it was the Tale of Two Titans: The cast members are naturally the ones that play great football, and the ones that don’t. After scoring a safety by blocking a Chargers punt out of the their end zone on the games first series, the Titans went to work on offense, scoring points on three of their first four possessions. But dropped balls and penalties would dictate the outcome for the Titans.
Vince Young was putting together one of his best passing games in recent memory. He ended the day going 10 of 21 for 253 yards and 2 TDs. Yes, he completed less than 50% but this was a game of multiple dropped passes (last I counted was ‘six’). Vince was on-th- money most of the time, and should have posted a better passer rating than the 123.7 he finished with. One of his most beautiful passes of the day was a deep ball intended for Kenny Britt on the Titans second possession of the day. The pass seemed catchable but Britt pulled a hamstring muscle on the play and never returned to the game. The pass that will make the highlight reel was a deep 71-yard TD strike to a streaking Nate Washington at the 11:53 mark in the fourth quarter. The score put the Titans within the 2 points of the Chargers. Coach Fisher went for two points but came up short on a poorly thrown ball to Chris Johnson outside the left hash marks. Washington led all Titans receivers with 117 yards.
Chris Johnson was relatively quiet today rushing 15 times for 59 yards. He did score a TD on a nifty 29-yard change-of-direction run where he weaved against the grain and navigated into the end zone at the 4:58 mark of the second quarter.
Young injured his foot in the fourth quarter while sliding to avoid a hit after a short scramble. He was replaced by Kerry Collins who’s sporting an injured finger on his throwing hand. Like Young, Collins had to deal with drop passes. One dropped pass on a critical fourth down pass to Chris Johnson at the San Diego 15 yard line proved to be the nail in the coffin for the Titans this Halloween – denying them any chance of a score and possible 2-point conversion to send the game into OT.
The Titans have a bye week coming up which will give them some time to heal from mid-season injuries. The following week finds them on the road at Miami (4-3)
What did we learn from this game?The Titans helped Norv Turner save his job!