San Diego Chargers suffer second loss

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It’s been a difficult start to the season for the San Diego Chargers. Three games in and their record is 1-2. They beat the Detroit Lions in Game One, but then they traveled to Cincinnati to face Bengals, one of the better teams in the AFC. That game ended with a Bengals win, 24-19.

On Sunday they met the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis. If you look at just the stats of the game, you’d think this was a San Diego win. Quarterback Philip Rivers passed for 246 yards, the total offense by the Chargers was 369 yards to the Vikings’ 284. They had more first downs and their third down efficiency was higher.

The Chargers controlled the ball five minutes more than the Vikings and yet the final score was Chargers 14, Vikings 31.

What it came down to for the Chargers was closing out drives with a score. They scored a touchdown in the final two minutes of the first quarter and were only able to get that second touchdown in the final seconds of the game.

Running Back Melvin Douglas
Running Back Melvin Douglas

What the Chargers need to do to win is put the ball in the end zone. Maybe it’s time to start giving that rookie running back more touches; Melvin Gordon had only 14 carried for 51 yards. That’s a decent 3.6 yards per carry. San Diego’s total rushing yards were just 90, as compared to Minnesota’s 163.

On the other side of the ball the great Adrian Peterson gave Gordon and the rest of the Chargers a clinic on how to run the football and control the game. He had 129 yards rushing on 20 runs, with two touchdowns.

But it wasn’t just offense that won it for the Vikings. Linebacker Chad Greenway intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter and ran it back 91 yards for a TD to help cement the win for Minnesota. And the number of times the Vikings defense sacked Philip Rivers — four times for 28 yards total.

It was great defense and pretty good offense that won the game for the Vikings. That and the fact that San Diego’s offensive line had five players get injured during the game. It’s hard to have a consistent offensive game if key players are constantly being replaced in the course of a game.

It’s still early in the season and Chargers fans are used to seeing their team make late season runs at the playoffs, so it’s too early to panic. Philip Rivers can still pass and they still have a running game that can get in gear and score.

The defense needs to improve; they allowed four touchdowns Sunday, two by Adrian Peterson. But, as Chargers head coach Mike McCoy noted, “He’s obviously one of the best running backs in the history of the game.”

It was hard to believe the running back missed most of last season.

Next week the Chargers will be back at home to face the Cleveland Browns, a team performing so badly right now the Chargers are almost assured a win. But, it is unlikely the Chargers will take the game lightly. They’ve just lost two in a row.

The Vikings travel to Denver to face Peyton Manning and the Broncos. If their defense plays as well against Denver as it did against San Diego, they may hand a gift to the Chargers by defeating the AFC West Division leaders.

(Photos by Claudia Gestro; L.A. Post-Examiner Staff contributed to this article)