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3 things we learned about the Chargers

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SAN DIEGO — If this is the Chargers’ final season in San Diego, their last opening act was beauty.

The Chargers roared back from an 18-point deficit against the Detroit Lions and prevailed 33-28 on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.

“It was a tale of two halves,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. “We couldn’t be much worst in that first half.”

The second half was vintage Chargers, and if they do move to Los Angeles, they’re leaving behind some fond memories.

Danny Woodhead’s 1-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter secured the victory in the season opener for both teams.

Rivers threw for 404 yards and two touchdowns, completing 35 of 42 passes. He was intercepted twice while throwing for 400 yards for the seventh time in his career.

San Diego wide receiver Keenan Allen tied Kellen Winslow’s franchise record set in 1984 with 15 receptions for 166 yards.

“You are playing fast but at the same time you understand what is going on,” Allen said. “You know Philip is looking for me so that makes it slow.”

The Chargers scored 30 straight points to take the lead with 2:37 remaining.

“We felt like we had them on the ropes and they were not going to stop us unless we just didn’t execute,” said Rivers, who tied Dan Fouts’ club mark with his 254th touchdown pass. “That was what we felt out there and we were able to keep it rolling.”

Trailing 21-3 in the second quarter, San Diego began its charge when Woodhead took advantage of a jumbo offensive line package when backup tackle Chris Hairston was inserted as a tight end and lined up outside of left tackle King Dunlap. Woodhead scooted in for a 9-yard scoring run.

The Chargers advanced to the Detroit 19 in the closing seconds of the first half, but Rivers tried to hit wide receiver Malcom Floyd and the pass was intercepted by cornerback Darius Slay.

“We got off to a good start, but weren’t able to sustain it,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “They were pretty red hot in the second half.”

What we learned about the Chargers:

1. Melvin Gordon didn’t forget how to run since being the runner-up for last season’s Heisman Trophy. The running back showed plenty of wiggle; the only problem was many of his best runs came getting back to the line of scrimmage. The rebuilt Chargers’ offensive line remains a work in progress. Gordon looked good; the line he was behind was inconsistent. Gordon finished with 51 yards on 14 carries but also had a key fumble that nearly derailed the Chargers’ comeback.

2. Tight end Ladarius Green had a decent showing in filling in for Pro Bowler Antonio Gates. It was the first of four games in which Green will start because Gates was suspended for violating the NFL’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs. Green finished with five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown with a long of 22. Green, a third-year pro, was targeted six times; only Keenan Allen (17) was targeted more often by quarterback Philip Rivers.

3. Linebacker Kyle Emanuel is the real deal. He looked good throughout camp and the preseason, but considering he was a fifth-round pick from North Dakota State, many wanted him to prove it when the regular season started. Well, with Jerry Attaochu out with a bum hamstring, Emanuel received his shot, and he didn’t disappoint. He had a sack in the first half and then turned in an acrobatic, diving interception. Emanuel had 19.5 sacks last year in college, and the NFL game doesn’t look too big for him.

Etc.

–LG D.J. Fluker sustained what appears to be a serious left ankle injury in the third quarter. Fluker, who was switched inside after starting his first two years at left tackle, exited on a cart. He was rolled up on at the end of a play, and his condition will be revealed Monday.

–K Josh Lambo had a lot of eyes on him as he made the team over Nick Novak. Lambo is a rookie and Novak was the second-most accurate kicker in Chargers franchise history. Lambo found the end zone in each of his kickoffs, which is why the Chargers went with him, and he was 2-for-2 on field goals, but he did miss an extra point.

–T Joe Barksdale was removed from the game late, but he said he was fine in the locker room afterward. The Chargers signed Barksdale in the offseason to bring stability to the right tackle spot, which allowed them to move D.J. Fluker inside. It is not expected that Barksdale will miss significant time.


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