I asked the question last week if there was anything to be excited about at this point. I clearly did not think that this team would be able to rebound with a win in Philadelphia. I was even more skeptical after the Ryan Mathews fumble. Once Malcom Floyd was on the stretcher, I Tweeted that I saw the game and season slipping away. But to their credit, the Chargers rose up. If Stuckey hadn't recovered Whitaker's fumble, it might not have mattered, but they deserved to win that game. Yes, Chip Kelly could have bled the clock down (although I didn't consider that at the time) and the Eagles' performance against the Queefs suggests that they may not be all that good. But going into that game, Philly was all the rage. They were playing with a ton of confidence and were matched in their home opener against a team that had every reason to be down in the dumps. When Novak's kick cleared the crossbar, I let out a cathartic scream that scared my kids. That win felt better than anything since the 2010 game at Houston.
I decided to put my Philip Rivers jersey on at the start of the fourth quarter before kickoff. If this team was going to do anything, he would have to shine when it mattered. I know how cliched that sounds, but it's the truth. To his credit, Rivers looked better than he has since 2009. I'd like to say something to Philip directly, if you don't mind.
Look, I was wrong about you if only for a week. You still had it in you, but you were wrong too. You defended Norv all these years and you slipped into some really bad habits. Once Jackson left and Brown got hurt, you kept throwing like the guys we had were going to be able to go up and get the ball. Who knew what a difference a healthy Eddie Royal would make? You went from the "chuck and suck" to those high percentage passes that McCoy stressed in the offseason. I saw you scramble in two consecutive games and make passes while being pulled down that were still pretty accurate. Now you face the team against whom you first showed you could lead this team.
It was in the Tennessee playoff game in 2007 that Rivers started his ascent. After cheapshotting Gates (after doing the same to Merriman earlier in the year), Rivers was forced to air it out as the TItans were daring him to beat them. The 2009 game was the Bolts' last trip to Nashville. That was also their last great moment of the year. They locked up the #2 seed on Christmas after Nate Kaeding's fool's gold game-winning against Cincy. In fact, I think that was Rivers' last game-winning drive. Much like Sunday, the score was tied when he last got the ball.
But you know all this, FAITHFUL READER. I don't know why I'm wasting your time.
I wish Antonio Gates would not always go for the extra yardage sometimes, but that's more due to fear of injury. He fumbles so infrequently, I can't complain. When the ball hit the turf, I wondered if it would be like Sproles' goal-line fumble in our last playoff win. In that game, like the previous year's game against Indy, you could just sense that the team would play through it. They deserved it. But the Mathews' fumble was where I was sure that all was lost. I mean, look at how he fucking carries the ball. There's a link in there. How can he not be more careful?
But Weddle spoke to the team the night before about not being able to finish a game and the building fear around it. Of course after the opener, the players said that they never got the "here we go again" flashbacks that the fans did. But Weddle's speech must have done something, although #32 whiffled on a tackle in the first half. Mathews was used on the huge 3rd down and McCoy talked him up after the game. However, there is no way he can be trusted. Ronnie Brown played well against one of his former teams on Sunday, but he's slow as shit. Woodhead is good on the ground in doses. This is Mathews' last chance season. However, I can no longer suggest that he should get more carries. I don't envy McCoy's position. Even Ladainian Tomlinson admitted to Darren Smith this week that Mathews is only his "flex" back on his fantasy team.
Speaking of fomer teams, King Dunlap has looked pretty good thus far. He had two penalties against him on Sunday, but Rivers was kept pretty clean. If DJ Fluker's concussion keeps him out on Sunday, I'll be more than a little worried. I know nothing about Tennessee this season other than the fact they have Jackie Battle. Chris Johnson has broken off huge runs in our last two games against Tennessee, although they haven't really mattered.
Sunday's win felt so good that I watched all the highlights. On the last stop to force the Eagles to kick a field goal, Sammy yelled out "Who was that?" when Jarius Wynn came flying into the picture. I gotta say, I knew very little about him before the season. Could there be another Antwan Barnes in our midst? Wynn played for the Titans so maybe he'll have a little extra for Jake "Hurt" Locker. Yeah, you can use that one.
The secondary is yet to get an interception and actually hasn't been all that close thus far. I know I said before the opener that at least we'd have two new corners getting burned, but that's getting old real quick. Wright got smoked, but Jackson does that to a lot of guys. Derek Cox looks like he doesn't even belong. The pass defense needs to get shored up.
I know Colby Underwood has been hyping Vincent Brown due to his SDSU roots and Tom Twomey has always been telling me how good he looks. However, I'm more impressed with him now than I was in that Raider game in 2011. He hasn't made the acrobatic grabs, but rather fought off coverage and made the very catches Rivers was expecting guys like Robert Meachem to make as he was throwing interceptions. Speaking of Rivers, the last time he led the team to a game winning field-goal attempt was in Arrowhead before he fumbled the snap. Yes, that's what I was thinking about on that last drive.
In fact, I couldn't bear to fully watch Novak's last kick. I sort of looked into the bottom of the screen and kept my eyes from focusing. Obviously, we've been hurt before. I liked his soccer style celebration, but Kaeding went crazy after that kick in '09 and it meant shit. Novak's come a long way since the pee jug against Denver in 2011.
The last few years, the Chargers have actually played well in their early starts. That includes a trip to KC in 2009 where Acee revealed that they were out late the night before partying. Apparently, Mathews has also been enjoying the San Diego nightlife as well. I'm all for it unless you can't deliver on the field. So far, he hasn't delivered. He'll be someone else's problem unless he gets his shit together.
It was nice to see McCoy bench Bird even though he had all those tackles Week One and stopped Foster on the 4th down play. The guy clearly wasn't cutting it. Freeney has been great so far, so I won't spend any more time talking about it and jinxing him. If could have played in his last Super Bowl, Drew Brees might not have his ring.
I know, it's all in the past. I saw Brees' detergent commercial and assume that was his actual wife. She looks a lot better than she did when they lived in San Diego. Yeah, I know it's irrelevant. It doesn't matter that when I saw the Philly cheerleaders on Sunday, I couldn't believe how much hotter they are than ours. It's San Diego, for God's sake. We don't need to have girls with caked on makeup and average looks.
Lastly, I watched the remake of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers before kickoff last week. I have always enjoyed the Cold War themes of the original and don't approve of remakes generally. However, it was so cheesy and 1970s, I had to watch. Plus, the banjo player had Jerry's original strummings dubbed over and if you click the link above you'll see that Robert Duvall has an umbilled cameo.
That's all for now. It's 9:00 PM on Friday and I think I'm ready to start my weekend. I am excited for Sunday. Please don't make me regret that, Chargers.