For a 90-minute span on Sunday afternoon, it looked like the Chargers were about to get some help in their bid to climb back into the AFC-football race.
They had the day off, but when they opened up the newspaper on Sunday morning, there were 11-teams in the AFC-who had 5-wins or more, the Bolts are (5-4), and San Diego was already behind on tie breakers already, knowing full-well how brutal the final five games of the season will be.
For a couple of minutes, you could hope. Buffalo was dominating Kansas City; the Raiders were beating up the Broncos; the Ravens were struggling; the Steelers were getting beat; Miami had an early lead against Detroit; and Cincinnati had already lost on Thursday.
But it never happened; the good teams rallied, and with the exception of the Pittsburgh pasting and the Dolphins last second loss, everybody else in that key AFC playoff chase eventually won.
So Mike McCoy’s team is going to have to do it themselves, and it starts today.
The most important player on the Chargers roster right now, the most important appendage, might be running back Ryan Mathews, and his injured knee, more important than the rocket right arm of quarterback Philip Rivers.
Mathews has been out more than 5-weeks with a sprained knee ligament. He ran hard in limited practice last week leading into the bye. They need him to run hard and produce when the Bolts play next weekend and the weekend after, against the woeful Raiders and the beat-up Rams.
For it is the tough guy running of a year ago, with Mathews getting heavy duty touches, that made Rivers so dangerous in the no-huddle attack. There has been virtually no run game during this last three game losing streak. There have been no holes to run to, with an offensive line that has gotten pushed around. And they do miss Danny Woodhead’s dart-and-dash plays.
Mathews can change that with his power, his cutting ability, and his ability to catch passes out of the backfield.
He is back, and his alternate Donald Brown is back after a 3-week concussion hiatus. If they can produce, then the Chargers can use the little hammer that is third running back Branden Oliver late in games to wear out people.
But Mathews ability to get tough yards, like he did in a star-studded season in 2013, now becomes critical, for what is ahead for the Chargers.
Nobody helped anybody yesterday, so it is time for the Chargers to help themselves.