Raging Rivers Too Much


The Tennessee Titans entered Qualcomm Stadium with the swagger of a 5-2 team that could reserve an early spot in the playoffs and oust the defending AFC West Champ San Diego Chargers.  They left battered and beaten, serving notice that the Chargers and Philip Rivers are not done yet.  Here is the Titan Sized Tirade from Week 8’s west-coast letdown.

1st Quarter (Momentum Titans)

The day started as most Sundays do for the Chargers.  An offensive 3-and-out, followed immediately by a special team gaff resulting in points for the other team.  However, unlike most Sundays, the Chargers steadied themselves and pieced together a 15 play, 83 yard touchdown drive.  This early touchdown very well could be the reason the Chargers won this game.  In that drive, Rivers was 6-8 for 72 yards and had 3 of the 4 third-down conversions.

The Titan offense and Vince Young did not capitalize early.  Not only was Chris Johnson held in check, but Kenny Britt made an early exit that will leave him sidelined indefinitely (silver lining?).  Transparent play-calling and few healthy receiving options left VY on his own to move the ball down the field.  Unlike Rivers, VY was not up to the task, finishing the 1st quarter going 2-6 for 54 yards.

2nd Quarter (Momentum Chargers)

Rivers cooled off in the 2nd quarter, pressured to hurry throws and misfiring for his seventh interception of the year.  But not before he captained the Chargers offense on a 5 play, 72 yard touchdown drive, that again was an immediate answer to a Titan score.  This drive was particularly important because it also was just before halftime and altered the momentum of the game into the Chargers favor.

VY came out hot as a pistol, rocketing completions of 26 yards (Damian Williams), 24 yards (Lavelle Hawkins), 28 yards (Craig Stevens), and 17 yards (Nate Washington).  By the way, your highest rated quarterback in the NFL through 8 weeks? Vince Young.  These passes and drives are very promising signs that VY is becoming a legitimate medium-range passer.  Did you see this? Be patient CJ2K fans, he is still lurking every game for a breakout.

3rd Quarter (Momentum Chargers)

Down only 5 points, Rivers would only throw 2 incompletions for the rest of the game.  It is no wonder then, how the Chargers managed to convert all 3 of their 3rd quarter drives into points (TD and 2 FGs).

VY went ice-cold, completing only 2 of his 7 passes in the 3rd quarter.  Worse yet, 3 of his misses were on third down.  In VY’s defense, all 3 misses were in 3rd and long situations.  However, there is no excuse for allowing 10 points and scoring 0 in any quarter.

Because Jeff Fisher likes to keep games close, Titan fans of the last 17 years know that every game will come down to a series of plays, or what I like to call the “Fisher Sequence.”

“Fisher Sequence”

Down 17-19, the Chargers backed up in their own territory and the markers showing 3rd and 8, the Titans were in a position to get the ball back and possibly extend their lead, while running out the remainder of the 3rd quarter.

Michael Griffin (who has played exceptionally all year) made a mistake that would result in a 14-point swing in the Charger’s favor.  Antonio Gates patiently walked a box-out route and in turning to trickle to the sidelines, Griffin held him by his jersey.  Rivers’ throw was actually so far off target that it looked more like a pass to Griffin, who returned the interception for touchdown, only to have it reversed.  The Chargers were awarded a first down and two plays later, Gates again beat a Titan (Will Witherspoon this time) in single coverage for a  48-yard touchdown that ultimately finished off the reeling Titans.

4th Quarter (Match Chargers)

Rivers and the Chargers started the 4th quarter with the lead, the ball, and a field goal that left the Titans in a hole similar to the one they climbed out of the previous week against the Philadelphia Eagles.  The key difference?  Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick’s combined talents do not equal the passer or field general that Philip Rivers is right now.

VY connected with Nate Washington for a 71-yard touchdown on a blown coverage by the Chargers, but adding insult to injury he would leave the game the same way Britt did 3 quarters before (without even being touched).  Kerry Collins valiantly attempted a relief effort comeback, but again fell short by 8 points.

FINAL: Titans 25 – Chargers 33

This game featured two of the better offenses and defenses in the NFL and was ultimately decided through the execution of a better gameplan and better quarterback play.  Kenny Britt and Vince Young’s injuries are far more cause for concern than this loss should be for any Titan fan.  Besides, it appears that there is hope on the horizon in Nashville. While the Chargers still have a long, hard path in front of them before the playoffs are even considered a possibility.