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Chargers look ahead after tough Monday night loss

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The Sports Xchange

SAN DIEGO — Tuesday felt like a bad Monday and welcome to Chargers Park.

The San Diego Chargers head into a short week still smarting from Monday night’s 24-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

San Diego plays the undefeated Packers on Sunday.

But first they need to rinse Monday, where one unit fizzled in the heartbreaking defeat with no time remaining.

“The defense was outstanding the entire game on third down; then we give up three third downs to end the game,” head coach Mike McCoy said on Monday.

Which led to Le’Veon Bell’s 1-yard game-winner as the clock expired.

The Chargers? They can’t stay low for long.

“There’s no time (for) ‘Poor us. Gosh, a play here, a play there, we should’ve won that game. Look how close it was,’” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “There’s no time for that because the place we’re going, they will run us out of the stadium if we don’t go there ready to play.”

Monday’s loss was bitter. With it the Chargers (2-3) fall under .500 in the AFC West, where its leader, Denver, is 5-0.

But it’s the Packers up next and Rivers stresses that is where the focus should be. No matter the dagger delivered by Pittsburgh.

“The team we’re going to next week is – again, I’m not stacking or comparing teams – but you’re going into an undefeated team that doesn’t hardly ever lose at home,” Rivers said. “And yes, do I feel like we can go in there and win the game? Sure, it’ll be tough, but I think we can.”

The Chargers are clinging to their faith. The facts are after four uneven games, the fifth one led few to believe the Chargers have turned the corner.

“You can’t make the mistakes we made throughout the game,” McCoy said on Tuesday.

Wednesday is here soon enough and then it really is on to Green Bay.

“We have to get over it,” cornerback Brandon Flowers said.

The fading Chargers, losers of three of their past four games, have little choice.

REPORT CARD VS. STEELERS

–PASSING OFFENSE: B. Philip Rivers was about the all the Chargers had — predictably, that’s good and bad. Rivers threw two touchdown passes to Antonio Gates and north of 360 yards. But he also threw his third pick-six of the season. The offensive line is pass blocking better than run-blocking, but that’s setting the bar pretty low. Gates was sensational in his return, with a team-high 92 yards and two scores. Melvin Gordon was used often as a receiver with seven catches for 52 yards.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: D. Melvin Gordon continues to run in quicksand, swallowed by defenders because the run blocking just isn’t there. Gordon rushed for 42 yards on 15 rushes. The Chargers continue to have trouble running the ball — 52 rushing yards — and it’s no longer an aberration but a trend. The offensive line continues to be in a state of flux and it’s proven by Gordon going into Week 6 without a touchdown.

–PASS DEFENSE: B. Pretty solid here as Mike Vick had trouble doing much – some of that was his bad throws. But Brandon Flowers was the target and he got burned often; Jason Verrett was solid on Antonio Brown. Flowers got hit for the 72-yard touchdown bomb by Markus Wheaton. Pass rush showed three sacks, but one was questionable. Instead, Vick usually bought enough time to get the throw off and that often worked in the Chargers’ favor.

–RUN DEFENSE: D. Tough game here but tip the hat to Le’Veon Bell who proved why he is so good. Still, another 155 rushing yards allowed and that is always a concern. But the biggest run came from Mike Vick when his 24-yarder set up the game-winning touchdown. Manti Te’o had a solid game; Donald Butler was dragged in by Bell for the game-winner. Strong safety Jahleel Addae is not back to 100 percent with an ankle injury.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: B. Josh Lambo had two field goals of 40 and 54 yards, with the second one looking to be the game-winner with under three minutes to play. He did fail, but it came from 60 yards. Coverage units did a nice job on Antonio Brown; although they got dinged once on a kickoff return. Jacoby Jones contributed a 30-yard kickoff return but did nothing on punts.

–COACHING: D. Hard to lose at the end and that’s what the Chargers managed to do. Head coach Mike McCoy is leaning on a passing game that is getting picked on with Melvin Gordon continuing not to be a threat on the ground. The hurry-up offense worked late as it got the Steelers on their heels on a warm night. But penalties did those drives in. The defense broke the cardinal rule of not keeping containment on Mike Vick and he burned it late — even at his age. The Chargers need to get bold and innovative. The status quo isn’t working, but that might have as much to do with personnel as strategy.


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