--Philip Rivers directed his third game-winning drive of the season. While the Chargers only needed three points this time around -- they were forced to drive for touchdowns on the two previous occasions -- they had substantially less time to work with. Rivers was up to the task, as he moved the team 46 yards in 46 seconds to set up Nate Kaeding's 52-yard game-winner. What made this drive so special was that Rivers had no timeouts and had to eat a 10-second runoff when Scott Mruczkowski sprained his ankle and had to be helped off the field.
--Vincent Jackson continued his Pro Bowl push by going over the 100-yard mark for the second consecutive game, the third time he's topped the century mark in back-to-back games this season. Against the Bengals, he posted five catches for 108 yards and a pair of scores. And while the two touchdowns were sensational, his biggest play may have been the 20-yard catch he made to bring the Chargers across midfield on their last-ditch drive. That big-gainer was no anomaly, as Jackson averaged more than 20 yards per catch (21.6) on the afternoon.
--Some postgame shows killed Antonio Cromartie for getting beat by Chad Ochocinco for a 49-yard touchdown. But anyone who understands football knows Cromartie played an excellent game. Outside that one slip-up, Ochocinco only had two catches for 30 yards. Cromartie denied two passes intended for Ochocinco, one of which was nearly intercepted. Given Ochocinco's combination of motivation and talent, that was a strong showing by Cromartie.
--Prior to the Bengals game, Norv Turner called out his kickoff return team for not giving Darren Sproles enough chances to bust big returns. His players obviously got the message, as Sproles returned the opening kickoff 45 yards to give San Diego excellent field position. It was Sproles' longest return in more than a month and helped the Chargers score a touchdown on the game's opening drive, the first time any team has done that against the Bengals this season.
--Nate Kaeding has buffed up his conversion percentage with deadly accuracy from inside of 40 yards, hitting more than 60 such attempts in a row. But he had to fire from long range for the first game-winning field goal of his professional career and he drilled it with room to spare. The kick would have easily been good from 60 yards out -- Coach Turner said afterward he would have allowed Kaeding to attempt a 60-yarder if it came down to it.
What Didn't Work
TE Antonio Gates
--The pass defense allowed Carson Palmer to top the 300-yard barrier for the first time since 2007. This wasn't the first time the Chargers let an opposing passer have a field day at Qualcomm Stadium, as Donovan McNabb went off for more than 400 yards when the Philadelphia Eagles came to town in Week 10. This has to be tightened up in time for the playoffs, when the Chargers will be confronted with some of the league's best signal-callers.
--Part of the reason for the porous pass defense was San Diego's tepid pass rush. The Chargers could not generate pressure with only four rushers and had to rely on frequent blitzes, many of which failed to land. The team finished with two sacks (Kevin Ellison and Alfonso Boone), none by any of the linebackers. That can't happen in a 3-4 defense.
--The defense must do a better job dragging down ball-carriers once they're stopped behind the line of scrimmage. This happened twice on Sunday when Ochocinco and Larry Johnson turned apparent losses into gains of 26 and 27 yards, respectively. If Ron Rivera's unit puts up this kind of fight against the Titans, Chris Johnson may top the 2,000-yard mark with a week to spare.
The Chargers and Titans step into the national spotlight for a Christmas game on the NFL Network. It's a game of two glaring mismatches, as the Chargers' aerial attack should overwhelm the Titans' porous pass defense, while Tennessee's running game figures to give San Diego fits.
The Chargers will try to build an early lead and force the Titans to abandon their running game. The Titans will try to run the ball, control the clock and keep Rivers & Co. off the field.
If the Chargers are successful, they will nail down the No. 2 seed in the AFC and earn the option of resting some injured players during the season finale against the Washington Redskins. If the Titans are successful, they will move over .500 for the first time this season and stay alive in the playoff hunt.
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Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com 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.