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Keys to the Game: Chargers vs. Chiefs

Posted Nov 22, 2013

Here are five keys to the game heading into Sunday’s match between the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Here are five keys to the game heading into Sunday’s match between the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs:

1. Wrap up the Ball Carrier – It sounds simple, but the Bolts acknowledge they need to do a much better job tackling.  Last week against Miami was their poorest performance of the season in that regard, most notably on Charles Clay’s 39-yard touchdown.  The team always places an emphasis on bringing down the ball career, but Defensive Coordinator John Pagano reiterated the need to improve in that area:

“Have there been tackling issues? Dang right there has been. That’s something these guys have to understand that it’s proper leverage, it’s proper balance and it’s shooting your guns and making sure you wrap the ball carrier up. You can’t just ever assume in this league that the guy is going down. They have to go out there and make the play. It’s something we have done since training camp that we haven’t overlooked, but it’s something we need to keep working and keep improving on.”


2.  Protect Philip – The Kansas City Chiefs boast the fiercest pass rush in the league, averaging an NFL-high 3.6 sacks per game.  Keeping Philip Rivers upright is imperative if the Bolts hope to come home to San Diego with the victory. Justin Houston leads the attack with 11.0 sacks, which ranks third in the NFL.  He’s followed closely by Tamba Hali, who ranks sixth with 9.0 sacks. Here is what Head Coach Mike McCoy had to say about the Chiefs dangerous pass rush:

“They wreak havoc on quarterbacks. They’ve done a great job, ever since I played them, of getting after the quarterback. They have great edge rushers. They have a very solid front seven and a good secondary. They do a great job of getting after you. One other thing they do a lot is create turnovers. All that is because it’s a good pass rush that forces quarterbacks to make some poor decisions. And when the ball is in the air, or someone is carrying it, they attack it. It will be a good test for us.”


3. Keep Charles in Check– Jamaal Charles is one of the most dynamic offensive weapons in the NFL.  He not only ranks fifth in the entire NFL with 803 rushing yards, he also leads the Chiefs in receptions with 49.  Pagano acknowledged the impact a player of his caliber can have on the game:

"We have to do a great job of being in our gaps and being in position. We have to go out and tackle. We have to get (him) to the ground. (He is) very explosive and can change a game in a heartbeat. Our guys have played him before and we have to do a great job of containing him.”


4. ‘Sound’ Proof – Arrowhead Stadium is one of the hardest places to play in the NFL.  The Chargers go there each and every season and know first-hand the difficulties presented when playing in that environment.  With a 9-1 team that has not lost a game at home this season, Chiefs fans figure to be as loud as the Chargers have ever seen.  Philip Rivers spoke about the challenges of playing at Arrowhead, acknowledging that they  will need to overcome the elements in order to win:

“I think it is arguably the toughest place to play in the league. Going there is the NFL. When you go there and play – that atmosphere, those fans and that team. It’s a heck of an NFL football team.  Besides Seattle, I don’t know if I’ve been to a place as loud. Every place is loud, but those two standout to be at the top when it comes to noise and how to manage those sort of things."


5. Find a Way to Win– The Chargers have been in every loss this season virtually down to the final seconds.  Now, they just need to find a way to close out with a victory.  It’s not only learning how to finish, but according to McCoy, the team needs to focus on each and every play like the game depends on it:

“Just find a way to win. Like we’ve talked to the team, it’s about understanding the importance of every play because you never know whether it’s the last drive, last week or the first half. On a blown protection scheme, if we don’t do that, it might be a touchdown and all of a sudden it’s this score versus this score. Understanding the red area; on third down I consider them four point plays. If you convert them, you’ve got a chance for a touchdown. If you don’t, you’re kicking a field goal. There are all different reasons. Every game there’s good and bad. You’ve just got to look at each game differently and analyze how quickly you can fix those mistakes."


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