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Five Lessons from the Bengals Game

Posted Jan 6, 2014

Here are your weekly five lessons from the past week's game.

Here are five lessons we learned from Sunday’s 27-10 Wild Card win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

1. Second Half Surgers– For the third game in a row, the Bolts overcame a mediocre  first half with a dynamite effort in the second to get the win.  The team shut-out one of the most dynamic home offenses over the final 30 minutes while outscoring the Bengals 17-0.  After the game, Head Coach Mike McCoy spoke about what he told the team  in the locker room and what their mindset was coming out of it for the second half:

“We’ve got 30 minutes left — that’s the only thing guaranteed to us. You’ve got 30 minutes left in the season. Let’s do what we want with it. It’s about fundamentals. In playoff football and the rest of this year, it’s going to be about fundamentals. Let’s go out there and do all the little things right and the big things will take care of themselves. Just go do your job, do your job for the next 30 minutes, and if it’s good enough we’re advancing. If it’s not, we’re done for the year. It’s as simple as that. You shouldn’t need a big speech at halftime, or the beginning of a game right now, or a playoff game at this point in time in a season. They’ve heard me plenty of times already this year.”

2. No Drop Off With Next Man Up –All year long McCoy has said it takes a 53-man effort week in and week out for his team.  That mindset was embodied by two players who played key roles in Sundays win – Ronnie Brown and Rich Ohrnberger.  After seeing sparse playing time over the last month, the Bolts needed Brown in a big way and he delivered.  The veteran rushed for a game-high 77 yards, capped off with a game sealing 58-yard touchdown run, earning high praise from McCoy:

“I’m so happy for Ronnie. I’ve probably touched on it, but what he’s done for this football team, what he means to the team — his leadership, his knowledge of the game, his role that he’s played — he never changed. He showed up to work every day. All he does is look and help his teammates out, and that’s all you can ask. He’s a true professional — a great guy to be around. We’re very fortunate to have him. Really, for him to score like that there’s a reason for it. There is.”

Meanwhile, Nick Hardwick is part of the glue that holds the entire offense together, but unfortunately he went down for the game early in the first quarter.  As a result, Ohrnberger stepped in under center and the team didn’t miss a beat and Philip Rivers had plenty of praise following  number 74’s performance:

“That’s the longest we’ve gone without Nick. Give a lot of credit to Rich Ohrnberger. The last few months Rich has gotten a lot of reps, so I’m sure he had confidence and I had confidence in him. It says a lot about the whole group. We didn’t have a lot of mistakes. You hate to see Nick come out, but thankful that we have an experienced guy in Ohrnberger to go in there.”

 

3. Turning Up the Turnovers–An excellent game plan by Defensive Coordinator John Pagano led to one of the best defensive efforts of the year, highlighted by forcing a season-high four turnovers forced.  The first came at the end of the first half when Donald Butler chopped the ball away from Giovani Bernard in the red zone before the Bolts piled on with two picks and a fumble recovery in the second half.  The performance was especially appreciated by the members of the offense, such as Keenan Allen, who kept lauding the job his  teammates did to pry the ball loose:

“They had a tremendous game on the defensive side.  All the three-and-outs and four turnovers, they played tremendously.  That’s what it’s about, and we were able to put up points and hold them to only 10.”

 

4. Bolts Running Wild– In a game when leading rusher Ryan Mathews barely touched the ball in the second half, the Bolts still managed to rush for 196 yards – the third most in San Diego postseason history. Overall, Mathews rushed 13 times for 52 yards, Danny Woodhead 15 for 54 and Brown eight for 77.  Based on the flow of the game, McCoy said the team did whatever it took to get the win, which included a heavy dose of the run:

“We said from the first game, it doesn’t matter if it’s the first game against Houston or it’s this game, we’re going to do whatever we think it takes to win. As the flow of the game changes and things happen, there are certain things that are going to come up, and we’re going to decide this is how we’re going to play it. It might be more clock management from time-to-time, it could be weather like it came out today, what’s the situation, how are we protecting the quarterback, how are the receivers running outside, there are a number of things that come into the equation and it’s our job as coaches to make the best decision we think to win.”

5. Road Warriors –This is the third time this season the Chargers went into an opposition’s home stadium where the team had been undefeated and handed them a loss. First was the Kansas City Chiefs, then the Denver Broncos and on Sunday, it was the Cincinnati Bengals.  If the Bolts want to go the distance, they will have to continue their strong play on the road as they will be the visitor as long as their season lasts.  As Ronnie Brown explained, it’s important to take the crowd out of it when you are in that situation:

“I think that’s big. Basically, when you go on the road, it’s a good feeling to be able to go on the road and silence the crowd. They’re all there to support their team and when you get a chance to make it quiet, it makes it a lot easier on the offensive side of the ball. At the same time, it’s a lot more momentum when you can hear the cadence.”

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