Posts Tagged ‘Keenan Allen’

I can still recall hearing the news that Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon got injured in 1984 and would be sidelined with a lacerated kidney.

That injury occurred well before the days of the Internet – your home phone was the only way people could find you back then – so a friend and I headed over to the local bookstore to learn the meaning.

The second I saw the word “sliced” I suddenly felt real bad for McMahon, who was then one of the biggest jerks in pro sports.

I kept picturing a kidney being sliced and I would just cringe.

Well, lacerated kidney is back in the sports vernacular as San Diego Chargers receiver Keenan Allen is done for the season. Yep, he suffered a lacerated kidney during Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

The injury cuts short what was on pace to being a historic season for Allen, the third-year pro who has gone from being a third-round draft steal in 2013 to one of the NFL’s top receivers.

Allen had 67 receptions in eight games before leaving Sunday’s game at halftime due to the injury. The catches tie for third-most in NFL history over a team’s first eight games.

Atlanta’s Julio Jones (70 this season) and former Indianapolis standout Marvin Harrison (69 in 2002) are the only players to have more.

Another way to put Allen’s fabulous half season in perspective is this: He had 71 receptions during a fantastic rookie campaign in 2013 and then increased that to 77 catches last season.

He was not only on pace to shatter his personal high but he also was going to obliterate the Chargers franchise mark of 100 receptions by LaDainian Tomlinson in 2003.

But now Allen’s season is over. It ended with an acrobatic 13-yard touchdown catch in which he landed awkwardly and remained on the turf for several minutes.

Allen’s loss rates as a blow for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who has been outstanding with 2,753 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has deep bonds with tight end Antonio Gates and receiver Malcom Floyd but has quickly built a fabulous rapport with Allen.

Judging by ownership intentions, Allen might have played his final game during the organization’s San Diego tenure. Team president Dean Spanos is working as hard as possible to get the franchise permission to move to Los Angeles.

That would leave San Diegans to remember Allen as the guy who lacerated his kidney as they cringe inside and feel phantom pain near their own kidneys.

There’s just something awful about that term: lacerated kidney.

Didn’t like it when it happened to Jim McMahon and don’t like it now as the situation plays out with Keenan Allen.

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Ever think where the San Diego Chargers might be if they didn’t have Philip Rivers on their team?

Um, no, smartass, saying “in Los Angeles” isn’t the proper answer.

They also wouldn’t have been in the game against the unbeaten Green Bay Packers if not for Rivers having a superb contest.

The Chargers suffered a painful 27-20 loss to the Packers on Sunday in what was an absolutely stellar effort by the veteran quarterback.

Rivers had the most prolific game by a quarterback in Chargers history – the type of performance that would even make Hall of Famer Don Fouts blush.

Rivers set clubs records for completions (43), attempts (65) and passing yardage (503). He broke his own club record for passing yardage – 455 against the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 – while becoming only the 17th player in NFL history to top 500 yards in a single game.

Receiver Keenan Allen caught 14 passes – one short of the franchise record he shares with Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow – before leaving with a hip injury.

But all that production didn’t equate to a victory. The Chargers only scored 20 points despite accumulating 32 first downs, possessing the ball for 38 minutes and running 89 plays to Green Bay’s 49.

The Chargers had a chance to force overtime but a third-and-goal run by Woodhead was halted for a 1-yard loss and Rivers’ fourth-down throw into the right flat never reached Woodhead as the pass was broken up by Green Bay cornerback Damarious Randall.

Just like that, Rivers’ big game wasn’t enough.

Here’s the number why the Chargers head home disappointed – 20.

All that production and San Diego only scored 20 points.

Rough way to drop to 2-4 and pretty much know that you are out of the AFC West race with the Denver Broncos being undefeated.

The Packers remained unbeaten with the victory and recorded their 13th straight home win. Oh yeah, they are also 10-1 lifetime against the Chargers.

So the history wasn’t good as San Diego’s lone win against the Packers came on Oct. 7, 1984 and you may know it is also one of the most-ignored victories in franchise history.

That’s because the Padres beat the Chicago Cubs to reach the World Series for the first time that same afternoon. Winslow set his franchise record during that contest but the only receptions most San Diegans saw were on the Monday Night Football halftime highlights the following night.

So considering the history, it wasn’t looking too good for the Chargers when they spotted Green Bay a 17-3 lead.

Aaron Rodgers threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to James Starks in the first quarter and Starks later added a 65-yard touchdown run. Starks appeared stuffed in the middle of line before reversing to the right and taking advantage of the fact the Chargers backside defenders over pursued and meandered down the field for the score.

But the Chargers regrouped and scored a significant touchdown right before halftime. Allen caught a pass near the goal line with 12 seconds left – a review confirmed he was a foot short – and San Diego nearly let time run out before using one of its two timeouts.

Nearly a pretty major gaffe by coach Mike McCoy, who has made a habit of curious decisions during his head-coaching stint. There was no reason to be scrambling to the line and trying to get set to snap the ball at the last second. He had TWO timeouts.

If the play gets reviewed, the result can only be improved for the Chargers. The replay officials may have ruled Allen got in as opposed to being a foot short. So no need to hurry and get a play off.

Then weirder, McCoy ran in the field-goal kicking team while the play was under review. It is OK if you used your Nancy Kerrigan “WHYYYYYYY?” voice because that was even sillier than the timeout fiasco.

Finally, San Diego got the offense back on the field and cashed in as Rivers threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Dontrelle Inman. Trailing 17-10 at halftime in Lambeau Field provided hope and that was infinitely much better than trailing 17-3 or 17-6.

Helping matters more is that the Chargers continued to play strong at the outset of the third quarter and tied the contest on Rivers’ 19-yard scoring pass to Ladarius Green.

But Rodgers finally got Green Bay moving again after going more than 20 minutes without a first down. Once the Packers went ahead 24-17 on Rodgers’ 8-yard pass to James Jones with 46 seconds left in the third quarter, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if things fell apart.

It didn’t happen as the Chargers moved back within four points on Jeff Lambo’s 32-yard field goal and were able to make the Packers settle for a 28-yard field goal by Mason Crosby with 2:37 remaining.

But the final drive didn’t produce the tying points. Rivers drove the Chargers down the field but the offense stalled after reaching the 3-yard line. Two Woodhead runs and two incomplete passes later, San Diego walked off the field with its third road loss of the season.

Just don’t put any blame on Philip Rivers.

Sure, he only guided his club to 20 points but what more could he do?

He did it all on Sunday and it still wasn’t enough for a victory.

The San Diego Chargers have developed a reputation for letting fourth-quarter leads get away.

The problem that occurred way too often last season reared its ugly head in the season-opening loss to the Arizona Cardinals as an 11-point lead gave way to an 18-17 defeat.

So we know what the prevalent thought was when the Chargers took a six-point lead into the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks.

You figured the reigning Super Bowl champions would put forth a frantic comeback, putting San Diego in position to have to fight off a heavy assault.

But guess what – the Chargers just continued on with their game-long domination and posted an impressive 30-21 victory over the Seahawks – see stellar recap here: http://cbpost.sportsdirectinc.com/football/nfl-boxscores.aspx?page=/data/nfl/results/2014-2015/recap42156.html

There was a lot to like about this San Diego victory. Quarterback Philip Rivers was sharp and efficient and the team didn’t commit a single turnover. Tight end Antonio Gates turned back the clock with three touchdown receptions while having his way with the Seattle secondary.

The Chargers possessed the ball for 42 minutes, 15 seconds – almost as if they were pushing around a high school team and not the top NFL squad from 2013. San Diego ran off 75 plays and Seattle was on the field for a measly 40.

Apparently getting worked over by the Chargers is a bit annoying and hard to handle. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman refused to speak to reporters afterward.

Anytime you can shut up Sherman, you know you are having a good day.

And then second-year receiver Keenan Allen rubbed it by telling reporters that Sherman “isn’t really a shut-down corner.”

Beating the Seahawks and then popping off. What has gotten into these Chargers?

Either way, it only counts as one win in the standings and now coach Mike McCoy needs to get his team ready to deliver another strong performance.

The Chargers visit Buffalo next Sunday and then return home to face Jacksonville and the New York Jets. Record a win in Buffalo and San Diego will have a strong chance of opening up 4-1.

That’s quite different than what most people thought after the season-opening loss. But one impressive win over the defending champions has changed how the club is viewed.

And in a very good way.

There are a lot of highly disappointed people in San Diego today so I would like to ask all of them this:

If someone told you after that dreadful preseason that the Chargers would actually win a playoff game in Mike McCoy’s first season as coach, wouldn’t you have jumped for joy and been ecstatic?

It wouldn’t have seemed possible to rebound to a playoff-level team that quickly. It usually takes a franchise a few seasons to recover after Norv Turner puts his lack of toughness stamp on a roster.

Yeah, it is understandable that fans are unhappy after the Chargers lost 24-17 to the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Especially since the offense didn’t score over the first three quarters before suddenly racking up 17 points in the final quarter.

It does make you wonder what offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt was thinking about over the first three quarters. Hopefully it didn’t go down this way:

First quarter – Whisenhunt thinking about his interview with the Detroit Lions and picturing Matthew Stafford throwing interceptions and that’s why he refuses to call pass plays.

Second quarter – Whisenhunt thinking about his interview with the Tennessee Titans and wondering how come Vanderbilt had better skill players than the Titans and suddenly becomes too scared to call any plays that might stretch the field.

Third quarter – Whisenhunt thinking about his interview with the Cleveland Browns and realizing that lowly franchise fired their most recent coach after one season and his brain shuts off until the fourth quarter starts.

Yeah, it’s never a good time to have the guy running your offense interview for head-coaching jobs on THREE consecutive days when the biggest game of the season is looming. Try doing that at your current job when the biggest project of the year is being worked on and see how well that goes.

So no matter what spin control you hear from anyone, that is a distraction. It is definitely fair to ask why Whisenhunt didn’t adjust the ball-control game plan sooner, particularly since the running back needed to make it work against Denver again – Ryan Mathews – departed with an ankle injury.

The slowness to adjust is magnified by the fact the Chargers didn’t get that one final chance. The defense allowed the Broncos to convert three third downs on the final drive – the worst being a third-and-17 with three minutes left – and Peyton Manning got to put off his trip to “Omaha” and will instead play against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in next Sunday’s AFC title game.

The Chargers now begin their offseason and what needs to be remembered is this:

The team won four straight December games to reach the playoffs when it could’ve folded. McCoy changed the culture from the sagging Norvocaine-infested mess into one of hope. And once again – the Chargers won a playoff game.

Playoff wins still count – even if they are against the Cincinnati Bengals and even if Andy Dalton is the quarterback.

Whisenhunt will move on from Sunday’s game and will deservedly again become a head coach. He worked wonders with quarterback Philip Rivers and Mathews finally became a solid back and rookie receiver Keenan Allen took advantage of his opportunities. It wasn’t a Don Coryell-like offense but the Chargers made major strides.

Anyway, be disappointed all you want over Sunday’s performance. Be mad your team fell one step short of the AFC Championship Game.

But if you can’t find any reason to be satisfied when a team overachieves and wins a playoff game in a season they have no business even being in the playoffs, then you’re not following sports properly.

And no, I’m not going to order “chill pills” for the fans like one of the Chargers’ less-than-intelligent executives did last season.

But no matter what happened Sunday in Denver, the 2013 season was a successful one for the Chargers. Period.

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.

I covered a game in 2008 when the San Diego Chargers were blanked in the first half by the Oakland Raiders and later scored 25 fourth-quarter points to pull out an improbable victory.

But the Chargers had a secret weapon that sunny day in Oakland five years ago and it had nothing to do with LaDainian Tomlinson running wild in the second half.

Yep, Lane Kiffin was coaching the Raiders that day. It was his final game before being fired.

Kiffin wasn’t in the facility this time around as the Chargers committed five turnovers and put up a substandard performance while digging themselves a huge hole in a 27-17 loss to the Raiders late Sunday night.

The game ended at 11:40 Pacific time – 2:40 a.m. Monday morning in the East – due to the time being moved back because of the Oakland Athletics being involved in the major-league baseball playoffs.

And for two-thirds of the contest, it appeared that only the Raiders were interested in playing at the late hour.

Oakland was strong at the outset and quickly built a 17-point lead. The Chargers were so dreadful over the first 2 1/2 quarters that you would’ve thought Otis Sistrunk, Matt Millen and Lester Hayes were back on the Oakland defense.

Then Nick Novak had a field-goal attempt blocked with under six minutes left in the quarter. But instead of the Raiders taking over, backup tight end Ladarius Green scooped up the ball behind the line of scrimmage – making it eligible to be run with – and notched a first down.

The Chargers eventually got on the board a minute later on a Novak field goal and the late-night weirdness took another turn against San Diego when Danny Woodhead fumbled and Charles Woodson – yes that ancient defensive back who entered the NFL the same year (1998) the Chargers selected Ryan Leaf – scooped it up and ran 25 yards for his 13th career defensive touchdown to make it 24-3.

But signs of a comeback picked up when Philip Rivers threw touchdown passes to Woodhead and Keenan Allen in the first five minutes of the final quarter to make it a seven-point game.

Perhaps history would repeat itself but as quickly as Sebastian Janikowski could boot a 50-yard field goal from second base, the comeback was derailed.

Rivers was intercepted twice in the final two minutes – that made a season-high three for the game – and the Chargers now take a 2-3 record into a Monday night contest with the fearsome Indianapolis Colts.

“We had every opportunity at the end there and that says a lot about the character of the football team after being down 17-0,” coach Mike McCoy said in his postgame press conference.

Rivers finished with 411 yards for his third 400-yard outing in five games under McCoy’s tutelage but he was outplayed by Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor, who was 18-of-23 for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

The Chargers also had no sign of a running game against the Raiders with just 32 yards on 19 rushing attempts. Ryan Mathews left early with a concussion and neither Woodhead or Ronnie Brown fared well.

Now San Diego needs to rebound against the Colts or risk being 2-4 six games into the season with two games each against undefeated AFC West rivals Denver and Kansas City still ahead.

We will learn a lot about this football team – and its rookie head coach – by the way the Chargers play against Andrew Luck and the Colts.