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Chargers try to get past bump on the road

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SAN DIEGO — Was the San Diego Chargers’ latest effort an aberration or an indication of things to come?

San Diego hopes it’s the former.

The Chargers not only lost but did so in a manner which will stick in their claw.

“Obviously we didn’t play well enough on the road to win a game against a good football team,” coach Mike McCoy said on Monday.

Three turnovers didn’t help; ditto the eight penalties.

“We got a lot of things to clean up,” McCoy said.

But a coach being a coach, McCoy was emphasizing the positive.

“As bad as things were at times during the game we still had an opportunity to win,” McCoy said.

That’s always the case when Philip Rivers is at quarterback. And the Chargers did make it a one-score game when having the ball in the final minutes.

But the Chargers, when looking at the game with a discerning eye, know they have to improve in many areas.

“There is the good and the bad of the game,” McCoy said.

But the bad is what shows up in a loss. Last week in their opener, the Chargers also stubbed their toes in various aspects but that’s not the focus when you win.

So Monday came with some reflection. And the realization that if the Chargers want to make the playoffs for the second time in six years, an effort like Sunday’s won’t cut it.

“We’re going to move on,” McCoy said. “It’s on to a new opponent this week. We are going to put this one behind us.”

A trip to Minnesota awaits. If the team wants to prevail there, they can’t take baggage from Cincinnati with them.

“We’ve got to play better on the road,” McCoy said.

In six short days, the Chargers will get a chance to do just that.

REPORT CARD VS. BENGALS

PASSING OFFENSE: C — Philip Rivers had an ugly pick to basically end the game when throwing into triple coverage. But that was also indicative of the desperate situation the Chargers were in. He did throw two scoring strikes and played good enough to keep the Chargers in the game. But he was sacked on four occasions and got hit many more times. Unless the pass protection finds another gear, Rivers will be hard pressed to say fit. Keenan Allen disappeared with two catches, one week after getting 15. Malcom Floyd was on the other end of a 40-yard touchdown pass, using his moves to break free in single coverage. Stevie Johnson got the other scoring strike, collecting most of the 10 yards with his slippery moves.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C — Melvin Gordon continues to prove he has the goods to be a top-shelf runner. The offensive line continues to prove it can’t open holes on a consistent basis. Gordon had three rushes of 20 or more yards, displaying the skills he showed at Wisconsin. But the blocking was of the Swiss cheese variety – too many holes on too many carries. This has to improve to preserve Philip Rivers’ health.

PASS DEFENSE: D — Brandon Flowers got beat for three scores; Jason Verrett was flagged twice for personal fouls. The pass rush was lost somewhere between Kentucky and Ohio as Andy Dalton wasn’t sacked all day. Tough to cover receivers for an extended time with Dalton having so much fun; it’s no misprint that not a single member of the secondary had one pass defensed.

RUSH DEFENSE: F — Jeremy Hill fumbled twice and was benched but not even that could save the run defenders. The front line was pushed around and the linebackers often seemed a step slow to the ball – but with the blocker working with a head of steam after penetrating the first part of the 3-4 alignment, that is not surprising. The Chargers ended up allowing 175 rushing yards, with most of it coming from Giovani Bernard. It seemed to be the shortcoming of the Chargers was more from a physical nature than a scheme one.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F — A muffed punt by Keenan Allen led to a first-quarter touchdown for the Bengals and the Chargers were swimming upstream from there. Rookie Josh Lambo missed a 47-yard field goal as his learning curve is on display each Sunday. Not much from the return game with Jacoby Jones out with an ankle sprain. On a day in which the offense and defense had issues, the special teams was unable to pick up the slack,

COACHING: D — Not sure the message coach Mike McCoy was sending toward the end of the first half. He elected not to make the Bengals punt from midfield with two timeouts remaining. Instead of embracing another possession, he was content to go into the locker room down by four. McCoy also struggled to find a way to get Keenan Allen involved, one week after catching 15 passes. Defensive coordinator John Pagano was exotic in his pass-rush approaches, but none of them worked.


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