Chargers opt for punishing style and it leads to impressive victory over Indianapolis

Posted: 10/14/2013 in football
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That was sure a much different San Diego victory than anyone predicted.

You’d figure Philip Rivers would have to outduel Andrew Luck in a shootout for the Chargers to beat the Indianapolis Colts. Instead, it was a punishing, physical effort in which the Chargers played keep-away in posting a 19-9 victory on the Monday Night Football stage.

San Diego controlled the ball for more than 38 1/2 minutes in a superbly coached game by coach Mike McCoy, offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator John Pagano. Ryan Mathews had his best outing of the campaign with 102 rushing yards and kicker Nick Novak booted four field goals.

The Chargers (3-3) didn’t commit a turnover – yes, Rivers really wasn’t picked off in a nationally televised game – and had twice as many first downs (24 to 12) as the Colts. The effort was nearly as attractive as the sweet power-blue uniforms.

It was a truly a complete performance for the Chargers, who now receive the opportunity to play the Jacksonville Jaguars next. (Also known as the game you BETTER NOT LOSE).

Monday’s ball-control plan saw San Diego run off 72 offensive plays – the Colts had just 48 – and it featured four consecutive long scoring drives to keep Luck and the Colts off the field.

Three of those long forays ended with Novak field goals, which helped Indianapolis stay in the game. But there wouldn’t be a third final-quarter meltdown this time around as San Diego remained sturdy down the stretch and sealed the victory on Novak’s 50-yard field goal with 1:55 to play.

Apparently, Rivers had a chip on his shoulder over the pregame buildup for Monday’s game. Most of the national focus was about the contest being Luck’s first time on Monday Night Football.

“I wasn’t sure who the Colts were playing this week – all the ads I saw,” Rivers said in a postgame interview on ESPN minutes after the contest.

There was a lot of attention to a faceoff between the Pagano brothers but younger bro John was the happier sibling after his stellar defensive game plan helped hold older brother Chuck’s squad to its lowest point total in Luck’s 22 games with the franchise.

Another bright spot for the Chargers was rookie receiver Keenan Allen, who had nine receptions for 107 yards for his second straight 100-yard outing. Allen also scored the lone touchdown when he maneuvered away from double coverage to haul in a 22-yard scoring catch.

It was a good effort for the Chargers. And one that was as well-timed as it was surprising.

“Nobody game us a chance,” said Rivers, “and I wouldn’t have either.”

The trick is now following it up with another strong one if the Chargers want to legitimately be part of the AFC wild-card race.

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