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No Room for Uncomplementary Ball in Denver

Posted Jan 8, 2014

The Chargers have been hot lately, mainly due to playing complementary football.

You saw glimpses of it over the course of the season.  The defense was diligently getting off of the field, followed by the offense stepping up and rewarding that effort with points.  

But those stretches were also met with draughts.  The defense was getting stops but the offense couldn’t cash them in for points.  Or conversely, the offense imposed their will but the defense couldn’t hold up their end of it. As a result of this oft imbalance, the Bolts entered Week 14 with a 5-7 record.

Then everything started clicking.  The two units, along with the special teams, began feeding off each other, ultimately playing the type of ball  that Head Coach Mike McCoy has long preached, complementary football.  The result has been a 5-0 streak that has the Chargers feeling like a well-oiled machine heading into a Divisional Playoff date with the Denver Broncos.

“I think that’s why we’ve won five in a row – because we’ve played team ball,” said Philip Rivers.  “Offensively, we’ve put together some 85-yard drives and we’ve capitalized after our D got turnovers.   So offensively we have played well, but defensively, they’ve been awesome.  The consecutive three-and-outs, they’re creating turnovers, the short fields – we’ve complemented each other well. The times we lost earlier in the year it was they were getting stops and we weren’t doing anything with them.  Or we were rolling good, but they couldn’t get off the field.  So we’re playing complementary ball.”

“We’re hot right now so everybody is talking about us,” said Keenan Allen. “Coach has been saying nobody wants to play us, so we’ll see how that goes.  But hopefully, like I’ve said, we keep winning.”

According to McCoy, the Chargers always believed in themselves. .  Still, the recent winning streak has improved the team’s confidence, giving them a swagger as they rack up the victories.

"I think the more you win, the confidence you have, you start to play with a little bit of a swagger and you get going,” he explained.  “I think they have played extremely hard all year long regardless of the situation. If you watch the last game’s film, from first snap until the last, they worked extremely hard and have done exactly what we have been asking them to do. That goes back to the way some of the veteran players practice. If you watch Antonio Gates in training camp, the way he practices running through the middle of the field when he knows he is not getting the ball. That is where it all starts. They are playing with a lot of confidence and deserve to right now."

Overall, the Bolts are appreciating the opportunity they’ve been given and are embracing the chance to continue what has been a wild ride.  Antonio Gates is in his 11th season and knows how hard it is to get to this point.  He’s embracing the opportunity to go out against Denver, lay it all on the line and continue what has been a terrific stretch of complementary ball.

“Personally, it means so much to me to be in this situation again,” he said.  “I think the last time we were here was 2009, so when you get the opportunity to play in the postseason, you have to understand that you’ve got to embrace that situation…For us it’s just playing together, putting together a great plan which our coaching staff has done over the past five weeks, and going to play as hard as we can.  Fortunately if we can do that, our best should be good enough.”

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