Insider's Take: Chargers-Titans

There are two types of players: those who carry their teams to victories and those who get carried. On Sunday, the former group did enough to secure the Chargers' third win of the season. Here is our weekly look at what worked, what didn't and what's next.

What Worked

--The Chargers did a terrific job of compensating for the loss of their top four wide receivers. Antonio Gates led the charge by catching five balls for 123 yards, including a 48-yard TD catch. The running backs also made a sizable impact, with Darren Sproles, Mike Tolbert, Ryan Mathews and Jacob Hester each catching at least three passes. The fact that Philip Rivers still topped the 300-yard mark despite his lack of targets should be lauded.

--The run defense absolutely shut down Chris Johnson. Take away Johnson's 29-yard TD run on a wild cutback play and he finished with just 30 yards on 14 attempts (2.14 ypc). One-third of his attempts went for no gain or negative yardage.

--While the Titans struggled to run the ball, the Chargers did not. Tolbert led the way by averaging 9 yards per carry on his 11 attempts while also scoring a rushing TD for the fifth straight game. As a team, the Chargers ran for 156 yards (4.6 ypc). The Chargers currently rank in the top-10 in yards per carry (4.2) after finishing last in that category a season ago.

What Didn't

--The special teams continue to be an Achilles heel. In addition to a botched hold on an extra point, the biggest gaffe was Randy McMichael's missed block on the game's first punt. The result was Mike Scifres having a kick blocked for the fourth time this season and the Titans bagging two easy points. McMichael was also a non-factor on offense yet again; perhaps it is time to call up Kory Sperry from the practice squad.

--The pass defense was atrocious. It started up front, where the Chargers -- who entered the game tied with the Titans for the most sacks in the NFL -- finished without a sack. The back end did not hold up its end of the bargain either, as the secondary had too many lax plays and blown assignments. The end result had Vince Young averaging more than 25 yards per completion before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.

-- Buffalo PK Rian Lindell missed a 53-yard field goal in OT as the Bills fell to the AFC West leaders, the Kansas City Chiefs. Had Lindell's kick split the uprights rather than bouncing off of them, the Chargers would only be 1.5 games back in the division.

What's Next

The Chargers head to Houston to take on the Texans. Houston will be playing on a short week, as the Texans played a Monday night game against the Indianapolis Colts. The Texans are 2-2 at home; the Chargers are still seeking their first road win. It will be interesting if the game comes down to a field goal, as Kris Brown spent his previous eight seasons as Houston's kicker.

A Chargers win will definitely help in the standings, as the top two teams in the AFC West (the 5-2 Chiefs and the 4-4 Raiders) will meet in Oakland. With one of those two guaranteed to lose, a Chargers win will make an impact on the division race.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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