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BLUES AND GOLDS - 2011 WEEK 1, Vikings @ Chargers

Discussion in 'American Football' started by BlueandGold, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. BlueandGold

    BlueandGold The Oracle

    May 22, 2006
    2011 Season, Week 1 - Vikings @ Chargers

    Another year, another home opener. Another slow start?

    It sure looked like it when Minnesota's Percy Harvin took the opening kickoff all the way back for a special teams touchdown. For Charger fans, it must have felt like a bad nightmare, except instead of Freddy Krueger, it was the ghost of 2010's WIH (worst-in-history) Special Teams accompanying the scary soundtrack.

    Then, the injuries began. Painful in particular was the one to Nate Kaeding, leaving the team without a placekicker. Like a cat whose whiskers had been cut off, the Chargers stumbled a bit without his normally sure foot. Field goal tries turned into four-down yardage, and the Chargers dribbled points here and there, every bit the wounded and bleeding victim. By the time the horrors of the first half were over, it was 17-7 Vikings and it was feeling like the victim's time was all about up.

    Then the Chargers woke up, and the nightmare, like all dreams do, began to evaporate into the San Diego afternoon.

    A dominant half of football later, the Chargers left the field victorious in a game that seemed to test them with everything that made last year a miserable Charger year. Some folks will say that this was a sloppy, ugly, unsatisfying win. That's not what I felt, and not what I saw. What I saw was a Charger team that came face to face with the demons that kept them out of the playoffs last year - and proceeded to grind those demons into dust.

    There is winning ugly, and there is winning with character. The Chargers won with character yesterday.



    San Diego's stellar quarterback seemed a little more earthbound yesterday. The numbers were still more-or-less outstanding (33/48 for 335 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT), but anyone used to seeing Rivers play would notice that he didn't have his usual sharpness and accuracy. Part of this may be attributable to a fearsome Viking blitz scheme that overwhelmed Charger protections at first and were seemingly always in Rivers' face.

    Still, he missed throws that would normally be automatic for a QB of his caliber. He overthrew Vincent Jackson on what would have been a sure touchdown that would have brought the game to 17-14 in the first half. He underthrew Ryan Mathews on what may have been another touchdown, but what was instead an interception by Jared Allen (a defensive lineman). He was off on a few passes that normally would be afterthoughts, to Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd.

    Not everyone can be perfect all the time, but Philip Rivers is nearly perfect so often that we come to expect it from him. As BLUES go, this is a light one - perhaps even a powder blue, if you will - but it was different enough to warrant a mention. Frankly, this game would have been long over by halftime if Philip was playing like the Philip Rivers we all know and love. Still, that Philip Rivers showed up on the fourth-quarter playground toss to Mike Tolbert to give the Chargers the lead and eventually the win. That's all we really needed, and Philip was there to provide.


    This will hurt much more that Charger fans currently realize, I think. Sure, we all like to bellyache about Nate's playoff foibles. But the fact remains that Kaeding has always been as close to a sure thing as you can honestly expect from an NFL placekicker (in the regular season, anyway).

    The other major injury Sunday - Luis Castillo - will hurt some as well, but the Chargers boast a large rotation of Defensive Linemen, and I fully expect Ogemdi Nwagbuo to get a phone call very soon if he already hasn't. Replacing Kaeding's regular season surety will be next to impossible, and it's just another blow to a Special Teams unit that was attempting to right a capsized ship.

    So who's out there? Nick Novak, Kris Brown, and Jeff Reed are some names floating about. None of those guys is a Nate Kaeding. A regular-season Nate Kaeding, anyway.


    Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews combined for 80 yards on 24 attempts. That's 3.3 yards per carry - a pretty mediocre metric by any standard.

    Now, the Vikings were in blitz-mode all day long, which didn't leave a lot of gaps to run through for either back. Mike Tolbert also scored a very important touchdown from the 6 yard line on a very impressive, bruising rumble through the Viking defense.

    Despite those things, 3.3 yards per carry is still only 3.3 yards per carry. This Charger team will have to find a way to open holes for its two backs, especially as the year goes on - or, maybe, those two backs will have to find a better way of taking advantage of what is being given to them.



    Mike Freaking Scifres. He's been a GOLD many, many times in my writeups. It's not often that a team's punter is also one of that team's fanbase's most beloved players, yet, in Sci-Fi's case, it's true. Still, it's normally because of one of his wicked punts - those high, arcing things with the legendary backspins that bounce backward, hit giant scoreboards, or win playoff victories against the Indianapolis Colts.

    When Nate Kaeding left early in the game, it left a gaping hole in the lineup - one of the few positions on an NFL team that normally has no backup. Unpracticed, unprepared, Iron Mike stepped into that hole because he simply had to - there was no other option.

    The result?

    3/3 on point-after attempts. A 40 yard field goal that would have been good from 50, maybe even 60 yards.

    A few years ago, Marty Schottenheimer said about LaDainian Tomlinson that there were no longer any superlatives left to describe him. Well, I feel that way about Mike Scifres. The dude is stone cold, a sure thing, the best man I've ever seen play the position. I'm sure he'll be a GOLD many, many more times for us. Thank the football gods that we just resigned him, because I don't know what we'd do without him sometimes.


    By now, we've all seen the highlights of Takeo Spikes in action for the Chargers. He was all over the field against Minnesota, notching 5 tackles and 6 assists. A beast is what we expected, and a beast is what we got.

    What you didn't expect, perhaps, was his counterpart, Donald Butler, the second-year man out of Washington, to be right there with him. Butler, manning shallow center with Spikes, notched his own great game with 5 tackles and 1 assist.

    In a 3-4 defense, it's always a good sign that the linebackers - particularly the inside linebackers - are making plays. It says that you're solid up the middle, that your secondary and outside backers are free to range and make plays of their own. It speaks of a Charger defense that hit its stride yesterday.

    Behind Spikes and Butler were the two safeties, Bob Sanders and Eric Weddle (3 tackles/3 assists and 3 tackles/1 assist, respectively), with Quentin Jammer close behind. A total of 16 Chargers made a tackle and/or and assist yesterday. That's swarming defense, with all comers looking to get their chomps at the ballcarrier. It's TEAM defense. Team defense that held Adrian Peterson, the best running back in the NFL, to 98 yards rushing; and Donovan McNabb to 39 yards passing.

    It all starts in the middle.


    I know the fans felt it, early on - as if it were all slipping away, as if we were right back to last year. The boos signified it, the sinking feeling it the pits of our stomachs signified it.

    The team never bought it.

    Blow after blow came, and the team stood up. Kickoff return touchdown. Never-before-seen blitz packages. Injuries. A long run by Peterson that turned into a Viking TD. A 17-7 halftime deficit.

    The team never crumbled, never wilted. The kept their composure and came out to play one of the most dominating halves of football anyone's ever seen.

    Don't believe me?

    Here are some stats from the second half.

    Adrian Peterson: 24 yards rushing.

    Donovan McNabb: 2 yards passing.

    Philip Rivers: 193 yards passing.

    Viking points: 0

    Charger points: 17

    You're going to win a lot of football games if you continue to get halves like that.


    With a character win to open the season, this Charger team shows it's made of different stuff that it was in 2010.
    • Like Like x 7
  2. Sydalish

    Sydalish Addicted to Sports

    Nov 11, 2007
    Ah, I've missed these posts :)

    Not much I can say except that I agree 110%. One thing I don't worry about with this team is that they will give up. It's nice to see that continue to be the case in 2011.

    Never give up, Never surrender :bolt:
  3. boltssbbound

    boltssbbound Well-Known Member

    Jun 16, 2006
    One guy I think is getting a bit overlooked is Ryan Mathews. He had 3 plays of 20+ yards yesterday. That's three times as many as AP had. He also would have had a fourth and a TD if Rivers had given him time to separate from Jared Allen.

    The good news is that Rivers was less than stellar and we won. This bodes well for next week, since Rivers never has two less than stellar games in a row.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Any time that PR can have human foibles & we still win is a good sign, IMO.

    Ugly wins count just as much as the "pretty" ones. They're just not as stylish at the prom.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. RamAirVA

    RamAirVA New Name, Same Attitude

    Nov 12, 2007
    If you have enough to drink nobody will notice...nor care ;)
  6. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Well, at least I won't. :laugh:
  7. Enormo

    Enormo BoltTalker

    Jul 22, 2007
    Ditto. Top notch.
  8. Ride The Lightning

    Ride The Lightning Join the Dark Side, we have cookies.

    Aug 15, 2006
    1000000% agree with this. We lose this game last year. Great post B&G!

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

    Jul 11, 2006
    It was great to see the defense win a game for the Bolt's. The second half couldn't have been played better by them, I love it!
    • Like Like x 2
  10. bigmike.x.09

    bigmike.x.09 Well-Known Member

    Oct 22, 2006
    I've also missed these posts quite a bit! Fantastic read, thanks! :D Glad to see you back around these parts again also!
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Scott the Rock

    Scott the Rock BoltTalker

    Oct 19, 2008

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