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Los Angeles Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers. Photo Credit: Nathan Rupert – Under Creative Commons License

After dropping its first two preseason matchups, the Los Angeles Chargers playmakers came out firing on all cylinders against its cross-town rival, the Los Angeles Rams.

Philip Rivers looked comfortable and poised in the pocket during the first quarter, throwing downfield to Keenan Allen and a long touchdown to Travis Benjamin. Rivers is beginning to recognize the high-level personnel he has at his disposal at wideout as well as the emerging Melvin Gordon in the backfield.

Defensively the Chargers were stout in the first half, forcing the Rams to turn the ball over twice in the first quarter alone. Melvin Ingram turned on the jets for a fumble recovery for a long touchdown run forced by Joey Bosa. The Chargers were putting the pressure on Goff, causing him to constantly overthrow and make difficult decisions.

The Rams reserves slowly inched their way back into the game with a touchdown and a few field goals. Ultimately, the Chargers did enough to end the game in victory formation for their first win of the preseason, 21-19.

Winner: Chargers Offensive Line

The Chargers offensive line made it look easy for Rivers and other playmakers. They gave their quarterback plenty of time to deliver the ball and created holes for Melvin Gordon to burst to the second level of tacklers. Even when the Chargers backup quarterbacks Cardale Jones and Mike Bercovici subbed in, they were given ample amounts of time to throw and convert on most possessions.

Winner: Philip Rivers

Phillip Rivers put on a clinic in the first quarter, hitting targets and making great decisions throwing downfield. He connected with Keenan Allen, a fantasy darling in 2016 before tearing his ACL.

Rivers went a perfect 6/6 including a 45-yard bomb to Travis Benjamin, shredding the Rams’ secondary. The Chargers offensive weapons revealed themselves Saturday; not only will it be up to Rivers to deliver but the offensive line to provide solid protection, and if they can do that like they did against the Rams, the Chargers can definitely hang in a tough AFC West division.

Loser: Cardale Jones

Other than a pick on his first drive, Cardale Jones had a fairly mediocre day. He had trouble escaping the pocket while under pressure in a couple of instances and was faced with some long yardage situations due to penalties that killed some drives. Mike Bercovici may have narrowed the gap between him and Jones as Phillip Rivers’ understudy with some impressive throws late and sealing the win for the Chargers. Expect Jones and Bercovici to have a big duel for QB2 in the preseason finale against the 49ers.

Winner: Chargers Front Seven

The defense made life difficult for the Rams in the first half, causing two turnovers that ended up turning into points. Joey Bosa and the defensive line was hounding the Rams ball carriers and even forcing a fumble that turned into a 76-yard return for Melvin Ingram. Dwight Lowery had a thunderous hit along the sideline, making a Ram lose his helmet. The Chargers defenders at the first and second level played stout, it will just a matter of consistency, something absent in 2016.

Loser: Chargers Secondary

Don’t get me wrong, the defense as a whole had a pretty good day overall against the Rams. Picking on the secondary is a little ticky tack but there were some issues that need to be addressed. Though Jason Verrett had an interception in the first quarter, it appeared to be more of a poor throw by Goff:

The reserves struggled in the second half, allowing the Rams to get into Charger territory through the air seemingly easy. They allowed the Rams to close the gap to a one score game in the third quarter on a touchdown by Josh Reynolds up the sidelines.

In its entirety, Gus Bradley’s defense, including the secondary, looked much improved.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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