Offense stalls without key components

The Chargers have won four straight over the Oakland Raiders and have evened their record at 3-3. They did it with an explosive offense in the first half and solid defense in the second half. Disconcerting. however, was the offense in quarters three and four.

This wasn't a game that they closed out the opposition in the true sense of the word as the offense stalled with the timing of Nick Hardwick's injury – proving how pivotal he is to the offensive line.

But the defensive improvement was something worth noting – despite the team missing a few cogs to the wheel.

"We were shorthanded," head coach Marty Schottenheimer noted with the team missing Drayton Florence and losing Sammy Davis in the game. "I was really proud of our defense. They made plays when they had to make them."

The Chargers limited the Raiders success on third down to 23 percent and nine drives ended in five plays or less for the Oakland offense.

They also stopped the Raiders on 2-of-4 fourth down conversion attempts.

"Artistic for a while but we let some things get away from us," Schottenheimer said before reiterating, "The defense stepped up."

Even the offensive players noted the swarm of the defense.

"They took a good step in the right direction," Tomlinson said.

"The defense did a great job," added offensive tackle Roman Oben. "The interceptions, the sacks, I loved seeing what our defense did.

The offense, meanwhile, was ineffective in the second half, as Schottenheimer alluded to.

When Hardwick went out of the game before halftime, he took the offense with him. The Chargers gained just 81 yards on their next seven possessions and netted just 28 plays on offense during that span.

They managed just four first downs – after netting at least four first downs on each of their four consecutive scoring drives.

It is a good thing they held a considerable lead heading into the second half.

"They did a great job of adjusting and filling the lanes," Tomlinson said of the Oakland defense.

His 12 second half carries netted 43 yards and Drew Brees connected on three of six passes for 37 yards. The only third down they converted was due to a pass interference.

Was it the line play that hurt them so badly in the second half?

"Those guys did a great job, Leander and Hallen, when guys were hurt," Tomlinson defended.

But Jordan allowed two fourth quarter sacks and the running room up the middle wasn't dominating as it was with Hardwick manning center.

The offense will need to find a way to create space for their playmakers, especially if Shane Olivea and Hardwick are slated to miss time. The unit was clearly not the same – and there is still considerable talk regarding the shopping of Toniu Fonoti. Given the play of their depth, it may be a mistake to shop him.

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