By Nick Shook
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Miami spent the final period climbing its way back into what was a back-and-forth game for three quarters, and a Cody Parkey field goal pushed them to a close 19-17 victory over the Chargers in their Los Angeles debut. Here’s what we learned …
1. The Chargers were as up and down as their season has been. Philip Rivers completed 31 of 39 passes for 331 yards and a touchdown, but when they were leading 17-10 and needed just one score to put Miami away for good, they repeatedly stalled. It was great entertainment for the fans in their opener at the Stubhub Center, until the mood turned anxious as Miami continually crept closer with field goals. Los Angeles averaged over four yards per carry, gaining 44 yards on 10 totes between Melvin Gordon and Branden Oliver, but 26 of those yards came on one Oliver run. Inexplicably, the Chargersabandoned the ground game late when clinging to a small lead, running it just four times in the second half (with one being a Rivers sneak to set up Koo’s late field goal attempt). The lack of clock movement afforded Miami enough time to record multiple stops and chip away even as its own offense struggled to reach the end zone.
2. Miami has an embarrassment of riches at the receiver position. Jarvis Landry caught 13 passes on 15 targets for 78 yards, DeVante Parker caught four passes on nine targets (with two being fantastic jump-ball grabs), Kenny Stills caught two of five targets (including a touchdown) and tight end Julius Thomas caught all three of his targets for 26 yards. Cutler was 24-of-33 passing for 230 yards and a touchdown on a pass thrown well on the run. Despite being his usual gunslinging self, Cutler avoided throwing an interception. It’s remarkable to think he was almost out of football this season. Continue reading