The Chargers came to Lambeau Field as 10-point underdogs.
They were down three starters on their offensive line (LT King Dunlap, LG Orlando Franklin and C Chris Watt) and one starter on their offense (WR Stevie Johnson) and, during the game, lost two more starters --WR Keenan Allen and RB Melvin Gordon.
Still, they found a way to keep it close against the Packers. It just wasn't enough, as it so often hasn't been for the Chargers this season.
Here are some of the highlights:
PHILIP RIVERS IS GOOD, MAN
It’s easy to get spoiled by Philip Rivers – he’s impressive more often than he’s not -- but against the Packers, he elevated his performance to a whole ‘nother level. Rivers set franchise records for attempts, completions and yards in a single game (43/65 for 503 yards) and notched two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He was sacked twice (give credit to the patchwork offensive line for solid protection all game).
Rivers is now the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 500 yards and no interceptions whose team lost the game (is there an award for that?!). He led an 11-play, 77-yard drive to give the Chargers a chance in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but his fourth-and-goal pass to Danny Woodhead was batted away, and the Chargers fell to 2-4.
KEENAN ALLEN IS ALSO GOOD, MAN
Wide receiver Keenan Allen left the game in the second half with what appeared to be a hip injury, but before he did, he racked up 157 yards on 14 receptions, with 11 of those catches coming in the first half. His 119 first half yards are the most by a Charger since 1991.
Allen had two beauties before the end of the half – a 38-yard reception in tight coverage and then, on the next play, another one for 16 yards where he kept his feet in bounds perfectly.
DEFENSE DID AND DIDN’T
Big plays continue to hurt the Chargers defense, who gave up plays of 25, 22 and 15 yards on Green Bay’s first drive of the game (which resulted in a touchdown). The defense gave up at least one play of 20 yards or more in each of the Packers’ first three scoring drives. It’s a problem.
That being said, they also held the Packers to three consecutive drives that resulted in punts, and also limited Aaron Rodgers to 16 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for 14 yards.
Running back Melvin Gordon was hoping this would be a big game; after all, he was playing in front of friends and family, as he grew up and went to college only hours from Lambeau Field. It turned out to be the opposite, though. Gordon rushed for 29 yards on seven attempts and was sidelined for the second half of the game after fumbling the ball twice in the first half (and losing it once). Gordon has now fumbled four times this season, losing three of those.
Gordon fumbled seven times his senior year at Wisconsin (and lost six).
The Chargers rushed for 60 yards TOTAL in Green Bay. They continue to struggle to establish a ground game, which was a team goal this season.
ATTAOCHU COMING ALONG
Linebaker Jeremiah Attaochu had two sacks on Aaron Rodgers, one of which forced a 4th-and-16 after the Packers recovered Melvin Gordon’s fumble and gave the ball to their offense. Besides Attaochu, defensive end Corey Liuget had the only other sack.
MORAL VICTORIES ... ARE NOT VICTORIES
Maybe because very few people gave the Chargers a chance in this game, maybe because there's been some poor play in the last few games, maybe because of hopeless optimism, there was praise for what the Chargers were able to accomplish at Lambeau. They kept it close. They didn't get blown out. They almost won. They did some good things. All of those facts are true, and maybe some of the good that happened is a sign of things to come. Still, the Chargers lost. The great teams find a way to win.