by Marty Caswell
Truth be told, that may very well be the theme of their 2014 season.
Put it on a bumper sticker. A slogan for a t-shirt. The very mantra and definition of team win. And it made the Chargers win against the 49ers that much more remarkable. That they now control their own destiny into the playoffs with a win against the Kansas City Chiefs is amazing considering who was on the field and the plays that were made in their game-tying and game-winning drive.
Start with wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, who spend the last two years in the CFL, with his first NFL catch after he replaced Seyi Ajirotutu (who in turn started over Keenan Allen, out with a broken collarbone). Inman, who on the Chargers final, game-tying drive in the 4th quarter, caught a 17 yard pass on 4th & 10.
Watch: Teammates laud Philip Rivers. Dontrelle Inman on 1st NFL catch
How about the absurd turnover at offensive line, which saw no less than two starters go down early in the game, never to return. Trevor Robinson, replacing Chris Watt at center in the second series of the first half. Undrafted, free agent rookie TACKLE Jeremiah Sirles, signed off the practice squad on November 29th, replacing Johnnie Troutman at right guard early in the third quarter in his first ever NFL game.
Yes, Sirles, who played his entire career at Nebraska at tackle without a single snap at guard. And on Monday, the Chargers placed Troutman on injured reserve with a knee injury, meaning Sirles’ first NFL start is likely to come in a must-win, regular-season finale vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.
Monday afternoon, Sirles reflected on his NFL debut in Santa Clara and admitted it was so surreal he barely remembered playing in it.
“The message the night before was really cool, talking about family, so all I kept thinking about was I’m out there, I’m not playing for myself, it really doesn’t matter if I was drafted, undrafted, practice squad, active. I’m going in there, I’m going to be looked at as a starter, I’m going to be looked at to play at a high level like King (Dunlap), like Chad (Rinehart) and everyone else on that line. Philip behind me, that’s kind of the mindset I went in with.”
Sirles said he jumped at the opportunity to play guard when he signed with the Chargers, knowing that versatility at offensive line was his best chance at succeeding in the NFL. He also feels he’s now “very comfortable” at guard and pretty comfortable at tackle as well.
But he never dreamt his debut would come in a do-or-die game on the road against the San Francisco 49ers.
“I never thought about it but I always wanted to be ready for it. I can say that in our rookie meetings we did a thing like ‘what is a goal?’ I just want to play this year. I don’t care if it’s a field goal, kick-off returns, I just want to play. Being able to come in in a game, in at atmosphere like that, on the road, in a comeback win, you couldn’t write it better for a memory for your first time.”
“It’s been a whirlwind coming in being undrafted. You have to fight tooth and nail all through camp just to hope to get a spot then to be put on the practice squad, I felt extremely blessed for that and then through the practice squad I made sure I tried to get my best look every week, do what the coaches asked and if my opportunity were to come then I want to make sure I’d made the most of it and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity. Unfortunately Johnny had to be injured in order for that opportunity to arise but when it did, I just wanted to make sure I went out there and made the most of it.”
Now Sirles’s first NFL start may very well come against the Kansas City Chiefs. Who’s writing this script?
“I wanted to dance. But I was too tired.”
Corey Liuget after his first NFL touchdown
“I just passed out when you said 350.”
Jarret Johnson on rushing yards allowed to the 49ers