Week 8 Grades: Chargers-Titans

The Chargers moved the ball with ease, but the Titans put up plenty of yards of their own, especially though the air. We grade the full team performance, unit by unit, and dole out the latest player updates.

PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Philip Rivers did throw another interception but he also sped past 300 yards and delivered two touchdowns. Antonio Gates, again, was sensational and that is while playing with a bad toe> he had five receptions for 123 yards and a score. Protection was good with just one sack; Rivers did take some scary hits.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The Chargers had 156 rushing yards, their second-highest total of the season. The combination of Ryan Mathews, Mike Tolbert and Darren Sproles had 147 rushing yards and two scores. The run-blocking was good, and that was against an aggressive Titans front.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- More than 300 yards allowed and that was from two quarterbacks - neither one of them at 100 percent. Too many big plays and too many guys wide open from busted coverages.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The defensive line was stout in not letting the blockers clear much of a path. Antonio Garay is getting more productive in the middle. The linebackers were freed up and it showed: Kevin Burnett had seven tackles. The run defense is on an upswing with consecutive solid performances.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- Oh boy. Another blocked punt, a botched hold on an extra point, a 36-yard punt return. You get the idea. This remains a critical reason why the Chargers have reached the halfway point with only three wins. Mike Scifres did get off a 63-yard punt.

COACHING: A -- Norv Turner gets emotional in the locker room at halftime and to a man the players say his message hit home. Turner gets high marks as well for leaning on the running game with such force which made things easier for Rivers when throwing the ball. Ron Rivera's run defense schemes were good, but what's with the pass defense? Not only did it get abused, but there was little pass pressure as the Chargers didn't record a sack.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--How does TE Antonio Gates continue to play at a high level despite a painful toe injury? The wonders of modern medicine allow him to do just that for three hours each Sunday and that is about it. "On Saturday I told the guys I was going to give them 80 percent and I was going to give that all of the 80 percent I had," he said.

--LT Marcus McNeill is getting his legs back after three games. He missed the first part of the season in a contract dispute. "My comfort level gets better and better each week," he said. "I try to pick up my level of play every week."

--The Chargers finally held a team at the end to win a game - although it helped that Chris Johnson dropped a pass on the final play at the San Diego 10. "We knew it was going to come down to us," S Eric Weddle said. "For us to make that stop was really huge for our confidence and huge for us as individuals."

--Newly signed WR Vincent Jackson will have a full week of practice this week, his first since signing his contract on Friday.

PLAYER NOTES


Norv Turner
Jeff Gross/Getty
--QB Philip Rivers continues to shatter records and lead the Chargers' offense. He threw for more than 300 yards for the fifth time this season on Sunday and now has more passing yards through the first eight games than any quarterback in NFL history. He has also thrown a touchdown in 21 straight games, a Chargers record.

--RB Ryan Mathews was given an opportunity to show his skills early in the game and responded with a touchdown and 43 yards on 15 carries. He briefly left the game with some facial cuts but he is fine for Sunday.

--RB Mike Tolbert got back into the mix after getting limited carries in recent weeks. He averaged 5.7 yards on 11 carries and scored a short-yardage touchdown.

--RB/RK Darren Sproles had 191 combined yards and scored on a pass in one of his most complete games of late. Sproles averaged a whopping 10.3 yards on four carries.

--TE Antonio Gates was sensational yet again, despite a painful toe injury which has restricted his practice time. Gates, who is probably at about 80 percent, had a game-high 123 receiving yards on five catches; he scored his NFL-high ninth touchdown as well. His production is consistently remarkable but even more so with him playing injured.

--LG Kris Dielman suffered a stinger and had to exit the game on Sunday. Dielman won't be down long and will play Sunday.

--LT Marcus McNeill continues to get more comfortable protecting Rivers' blindside; McNeill has now played in three games since coming off the roster exempt list.

--OLB Kevin Burnett is quietly having one of the best seasons among Chargers defenders. Burnett had seven tackles Sunday, one for a loss. He got confused in pass coverage a time or two, but overall he continues to play at a high level.

--ILB Brandon Siler could return this week after missing Sunday's game with a foot injury which has bothered him for the most the season. Siler is a key player on the struggling special teams and stout in short yardage situations.

-- LB Shaun Phillips was quiet on Sunday with just one tackle; he did add a pass defensed. Phillips continues to lead the Chargers with seven sacks, but four of them came in one game, the win over the Cardinals.

--S Steve Gregory is back practicing after serving a four-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Coach Norv Turner won't say yet if Gregory will take over his old starting spot being manned by Paul Oliver. Before being suspended, he was the team's leading tackler.

--DT Antonio Garay has fortified his spot as the anchor of the Chargers' interior line. Garay had four tackles Sunday and was a big reason why the Chargers limited the Titans to 65 rushing yards.

--DE Luis Castillo continues to start and continues to put up puny numbers. For the second straight week, he wasn't credited with one tackle in the official game summary book.

--PK Nate Kaeding is still out with a groin injury and isn't expected back this week. Look for his return after the following bye week.

--WR Buster Davis had his season ended Tuesday when he was placed on injured reserve because of a groin injury.


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