The San Diego Chargers went into San Francsico with high stakes. If they lose this game, they lose the playoffs. It did not look good early but a little bit of luck and smart football got them in prime position.
The game began like a nightmare with Frank Gore breaking off a 52 yard run as he stiff armed Eric Weddle to the ground. San Francisco gained momentum from the word “Go”. The Chargers would punt after their first drive.
San Francisco got the ball back but would fumble at their 5 yard line. The Chargers drove down to midfield but Phillip Rivers threw an interception intended for Seyi Ajirotutu to Perrish Cox . The 49ers used this possession to roll into the 2nd quarter then score a touchdown of Colin Kapernick to Bruce Ellington. Score is 14-0.
The Chargers did not have a clue on their next drive. After getting the drive extended by a penalty, Rivers throws to Antonio Gates but is intercepted by Antoine Bethea for a touchdown. The 49ers pushed their lead to 21-0 and a blowout in the making.
The Chargers had to shift momentum before the 2nd quarter was over. Kickstarted by a 22 yard run by Branden Oliver, the offense went through Rivers to Gates. That opened up Eddie Royal to get into the red zone then back to Royal for a touchdown. Chargers cut the lead to 21-7.
The 49ers chose to chew clock with 5:09 left and keep Rivers off the field. The defense could not get a stop and Bruce Ellington got a reverse for a touchdown. 49ers are leading at halftime 28-7 and the Chargers have a 99% chance to lose. Give ’em 1% and they might give you 101% back.
Punts were the result of the first 2 drives for both teams in the 2nd half. Chargers got the ball with 9:15 in the 3rd quarter and built the drive through Dontrelle Inman, subbed in for Seyi Ajirotutu. After getting stuffed on 2 runs at the 1 yard line, Rivers threw a bullet on the outside to Gates. Chargers cut the lead to 28-14.
The 49ers came to reply to the Chargers touchdown and they did it with a 63 yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis. But the play was called back because of illegal formation and on the next play Kapernick fumbled the ball. Corey Liuget recovered in the end zone and suddenly it’s a 28-21 game.
Colin Kapernick does not mess around when he hits the field and he got a scramble up the middle. He schools Weddle (his 2nd missed tackle on a big run) and takes it to the house for a 90 yard touchdown run. The 49ers pushed their lead to 35-21 and shifted momentum.
Rivers tried to get a response quick but he tried to get too much. After hitting Inman for 14 yards, he tried to get him again but overthrows the pass and it gets intercepted by Chris Culliver.
4th quarter started with punts but the Chargers with 8:55 left in the game found an opening. Rivers opened up all his weapons with throws to Gates, Royal, and Inman. Then he found Gates wide open for a 21 yard touchdown pass and suddenly it’s 35-28.
49ers cannot get anywhere and elect to punt. The Chargers started a big drive with 3:30 left and it took 2 conversions on 4th down to get a chance to score. Malcolm Floyd lined up next to Gates and while the 49ers defense keyed on Gates, Floyd snuck into the end zone and Rivers found him for the touchdown. The comeback is forged and with :32 seconds left to play, the score is 35-35.
Colin Kapernick made another play with his legs to get the 49ers a 60 yard field goal attempt. Phil Dawson missed the kick and overtime was seconds away.
49ers won the toss and chose to receive. After a pass to Michael Crabtree, Quinton Patton takes a reverse up the left side and only Eric Weddle is in his way. Weddle steps up, forces his hand on the football, and Patton coughs up the football. Sean Lissemore recovered the fumble and all momentum has shifted to the Chargers.
Chargers started at their 38 yard line and Rivers hit Gates then Royal to cross the 50. Ronnie Brown led the team with 23 rushing yards to get Nick Novak a 40 yard field goal attempt. Novak kicked it dead center and the Chargers complete the comeback to win 38-35.
The Chargers outscored the 49ers with 31 points to their 7 points. The best playoff teams are the ones who catch fire late. You’d be crazy to say that the Chargers are not on fire right now.
As we get closer to playoffs, this team will get healthier and stronger. Rivers has found a receiving group with a serious 4th option in Dontrelle Inman. Inman was a big receiver in the Canadian Football League and filled the depth the Chargers needed. If Keenan Allen can get healthy then there are few teams that can cover the Chargers receivers.
The offensive line only gave up 1 sack in the 2nd half and that sack was Rivers fault. Trevor Robinson is the healthiest center and I believe he has earned his spot. The Chargers need to put the healthiest 5 guys out on that line because that gives them the best chance to win. If I was Mike Mccoy, I would never let that group of 5 leave the starting lineup until the Super Bowl or the season ends.
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” – Randall Terry. Fool me 3 times? I doubt it. Eric Weddle got fooled twice on 2 big runs by Frank Gore and Colin Kapernick. When Quinton Patton broke that run, he probably thought the game was over. Weddle saw redemption for his mistakes on that play and he got it. His earlier mistakes were erased because he made a game winning play and that is why he is the best safety in the NFL.
For the Chargers to make the playoffs, they will need to win next week at Kansas City. They also need the Ravens to lose 1 game, the Steelers to lose 2 games, or the Bengals to lose 2 games. Either of those scenarios needs to happen and I think the Bengals situation is most likely. I believe they will win next week at Kansas City because of their momentum and Kansas City will take a beating from the Steelers on Sunday. The Bengals play the Broncos and Steelers, 2 games they will blow. The Chargers, Ravens, and Steelers will all make the playoffs. Chargers will meet the Colts, Ravens will go to Pittsburgh.
It is an exciting time to be a Charger fan. There is lots of football to be played but tonight we can sleep in peace.