Giants-Chargers: What we learned

Jay Paris, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN DIEGO -- For Chargers fans, it doesn't get much better: watching their team wallop the Giants, 37-14, and the opportunity to boo their quarterback, Eli Manning.
"After 10 years, you think they would let up," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. "I just hope that they are glad that I'm here."
That is seldom a question, especially as Rivers continued his Pro Bowl-caliber play. Rivers threw for three touchdowns and the Chargers' running game added another as the team's playoff hopes remain alive after winning for the second time in six outings.
"We played our most complete game yet," said Rivers, who came to San Diego in exchange for Manning in a 2004 draft-day trade after the Chargers drafted Manning first overall.
The Giants (5-8) pumped the brakes on their streak to relevancy. They had nearly erased their 0-6 start by winning five of their last six games. But the debacle in San Diego ended any chance for the postseason as turnovers and lackluster play derailed the Giants.
"I think we got on top of these guys pretty early and we put them out of their misery," said Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen, who had two touchdown receptions. "They didn't really want to play anymore."
Billed as a showdown between quarterbacks Rivers and Manning, Sunday's game at Qualcomm Stadium was all about staying in the postseason picture.
The Chargers remain in the discussion for the second wild-card spot in the AFC after winning for just the second time in their last six games. They are tied with the Jets at 6-7, one game behind the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins for the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs.
The Giants are toast, relegated to playing out the string in their three remaining games. And according to Giants coach Tom Coughlin, it wasn't the jeers directed at Manning that discombobulated his squad.
"I don't think so at all," Coughlin said. "I think their team affected us."

What the Giants said
"Well, there's a lot to play. There's pride to play for. There's the fact that we're competitors, we play for the New York Giants and we're expected to go as hard as we can. We created our own situation here. No one else did but us, so it's our responsibility." -- Coach Tom Coughlin, after the Giants fell to the Chargers. New York started the year 0-6 and gave it a heck of a shot by winning five of six games before arriving in San Diego. But after Sunday's downer, a 37-14 pasting, it's clear the Giants season will end in December.

What the Chargers said
"It was great to have a victory like this. To get out early and maintain the lead, come out at halftime and have bad things happen and weather that. It wasn't like it was easy going the whole game. We got a lead, but turnovers and big plays are what gets them back into it. But we weathered that and continued to play well. It was great." -- OLB Jarret Johnson.

What we learned about the Giants
1. Turnovers killed the Giants' chances on Sunday, and have in certain phases of their roller-coaster season. When they staggered from the gate in going 0-6, they committed 23 turnovers. Then when they won five of six games, they had only eight turnovers. In Sunday's 34-14 loss, the Giants had three turnovers, with quarterback Eli Manning throwing two interceptions and running back Andre Brown losing a fumble. Those mistakes cost the Giants 14 points, and ultimately, a chance to remain in the playoff picture.
2. The Giants knew that Philip Rivers isn't the most mobile of quarterbacks. That's why it was imperative to get him off his spot so he couldn't pick on the Giants' depleted secondary. But once again, the pass rush was basically a one-man show as Justin Tuck had the team's only two sacks -- one week after collecting four sacks. With Rivers having time to go through his reads, he was able to throw three touchdown passes. Tuck said it was more about the Giants' heart than the players' technique. "It was kind of frustrating today to have to be questioning where our enthusiasm was," he said. "I thought we picked it up coming out of the second half and there was some good things there, but it still wasn't enough."

What we learned about the Chargers
1. The Chargers hit a home run in snagging wide receiver Keenan Allen in the third round of last spring's draft. Allen's stock had slipped after he suffered a knee injury in his last season at California. But Allen caught Chargers general manager Tom Telesco's eye years ago when Telesco was scouting for the Colts and evaluating another Cal player. Telesco didn't forget Allen, and the result was the Chargers getting a No. 1 receiver. Allen had two touchdowns on Sunday and has five on the season. Allen is making a strong case for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. He set the team's rookie reception record at 61, breaking LaDainian Tomlinson's mark from 2001.
2. Coming in from the outside is something the Chargers defense has been waiting for. The Chargers got two outside linebackers back on Sunday, with Jarret Johnson returning after missing two starts with a hand injury and Melvin Ingram being activated from the PUP list. Johnson had two tackles, one for a loss, and Ingram, a former first-round pick, had a tackle in a limited role. "We got a ton of young guys, including Melvin, that as an older guy, I love to see," Johnson said. "I love to see those younger guys come out with energy and run around with fresh legs."

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