The Chargers offense, save for one drive at the end of the second quarter, was terrible all afternoon in Minnesota. Injuries on the offensive line are mounting and its evident how much its hurting San Diego. Rivers was sacked four times and was hit on what seemed like every other play. The nail in coffin came early in the fourth quarter when Rivers was intercepted on a tipped ball intended for Stevie Johnson, and Chad Greenway returned it 91-yards for a touchdown. San Diego’s run game, or lack thereof, accounted for 90 yards on 28 carries. Twenty-six of those yards came from branded Oliver on the Chargers final drive in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach. Melvin Gordon, who had runs of 27, 26, and 20 last week in Cincinnati, finished with 58 yards on 15 carries.
O-Line carousel continues:
Center Chris Watt, who was limited this week with a groin injury, was injured on the same play Rivers fumbled. Backup Trevor Robinson entered the game, after, ensuring that San Diego would use at least two centers on the year. We all remember last season when San Diego was forced to use five different centers because of injury. Not good. Left guard Orlando Franklin injured his ankle late in the second half and was replaced by Chris Hairston. Hairston had already filled in at right guard for a few plays when D.J. Fluker, who labored through an ankle injury to start on Sunday, went out. Fluker returned, but it got worse. Early in the third quarter, Hairston went down and Kenny Wiggins came in. Hairston did return, but that was followed by left tackle King Dunlap leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion. By game’s end, and with Kellen Clemens at quarterback, the Chargers offensive line looked like this from left to right: Joe Barksdale, Hairston, Robinson, Fluker, Wiggins.
For the third straight week, the Chargers trailed at the half. San Diego struggled to get anything going offensively and punted four times in the first two quarters. Rivers did lead a beautiful nine-play, 90-yard drive that ended in a 34-yard touchdown strike to Keenan Allen that got the Chargers on the board before the end of the first half. A first half score looked bleak before the drive was kept alive by Rivers’ huge 39-yard pass to Malcom Floyd on third-and-18 at San Diego’s own 12. After catching only two passes for 16 yards last week, Allen was targeted 18 times and finished with 12 receptions for 133 yards and two touchdowns. He was the lone bright spot on offense.
After missing 15 games in 2014, and at 30 years old, Adrian Peterson has definitely not slowed down. He scored his first touchdown since November of 2013 in the second quarter, and tore up the Chargers for 126 yards on 20 carries for the game. After San Diego went three-and-out to start the second half, Peterson scored his second touchdown on 43-yard scamper with multiple Chargers missing an opportunity to tackle him, including a feeble attempt by Eric Weddle. Moreover, the Chargers aren’t getting after opposing quarterbacks. San Diego’s defense has one sack on the season and that occurred in week one against Detroit.
The Chargers burned two timeouts in the first quarter, one on defense and one on offense. After Steve Williams intercepted an underthrown Teddy Bridgewater pass in the endzone, the offense burned a timeout on third-and-two. San Diego then followed with a Melvin Gordon run up the middle for one yard, making it fourth-and-one at midfield. Of course, head coach Mike McCoy elected to punt. Last week against the Bengals, head coach Mike McCoy elected not to use the two timeouts he had remaining before the end of the first half. He had a chance to force Cincinnati to punt but chose to let the clock run out.
–Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)