Nov 27, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) runs with the ball during the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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The San Diego Chargers had a rough 5-11 season that included a five-game losing streak to close the year.
Though the season ended on a sour note and the future of the franchise is uncertain, several players stepped up and had big games this season.
Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman played well in the absence of Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson who were both basically out for the entire season. Joey Bosa was excellent once he finally got on the field and even a guy like Korey Toomer showed that he has a place on the team in the future.
Much like last season, the Chargers lost a lot of close games that had they won, the record at the end of the season would have looked much better. Still, we can’t cry over spilled milk. What we can do is look back at the season that was and point out some of those top performances that made fans of the Chargers cheer loudly and provide hope for the team.
I went back and looked at every game played this season. Though it was tough to narrow it down to five, here are the top five individual performances from the 2016 season in San Diego, ranked in order.
Oct 23, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams (16) runs after a catch in the first quarter of their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Perhaps the Chargers most impressive victory of the season came in Week 7 against the Atlanta Falcons, on the road. The Falcons are the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs
The Chargers needed overtime to pull off the upset, but the 33 points they scored that day showed that the team was not bothered by the Atlanta defense.
Williams got behind the secondary on a consistent basis in this game, as he caught seven passes for 140 yards. His 49-yard reception in the first quarter helped set up the team’s first score, a 2-yard touchdown run by Melvin Gordon.
Williams had three receptions of 20 yards or more and this was the game where Chargers likely knew that they had a future star in the wide receiver.
Williams put together an excellent season, and this game was his best performance.
Sep 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin (12) scores a touchdown as he is hit by Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) during the first quarter of the game at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
One of the team’s big free-agent signings was wide receiver Travis Benjamin. Though he had a somewhat disappointing season by most people’s standards, he showed flashes of being a huge weapon for the Chargers.
Many of those flashes came in Week 2 as the Bolts routed the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Chargers jumped all over the young Jags from the opening kick and at one point, led 35-0. Though there were many hands in building that score, Benjamin found the end zone twice.
Leading the game 7-0, the Chargers intercepted Blake Bortles and on the first play of the second quarter, Philip Rivers found Benjamin for a 6-yard touchdown pass. Late in the third quarter, Rivers and Benjamin connected again for a 45-yard strike (video) to put San Diego up 35-0.
Benjamin caught just 47 passes this season, but he was in no way a bad signing and the team should be able to build on his production next season.
Oct 13, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) is tackled by San Diego Chargers inside linebacker Jatavis Brown (57) during the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Bosa, Denzel Perryman and Casey Hayward all had some big defensive performances for the Chargers this season, but the best defensive performance came from rookie Jatavis Brown.
On the night the Bolts wore their sweet Color Rush uniforms against the Denver Broncos, Brown recorded 14 tackles and a sack as the Chargers held Denver to just 13 points. Late in the game, he also recovered a Demaryius Thomas fumble as Denver tried to claw its way back into the game, which pretty much sealed the win.
Brown missed four games this season due to injury, but the ability is there and fans should be very excited about what he can do in the future.
October 9, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) passes the football against the Oakland Raiders during the third quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
In Week 5, which was San Diego’s first matchup with the Oakland Raiders, Rivers had his best day of the season, at least statistically.
Rivers completed 21-of-30 passes for 359 yards. He also had four touchdown passes. Though Rivers did throw two picks, he did everything in his power to keep the Chargers in this game against a good Oakland team. He found both of his tight ends—Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry—for touchdowns in this game, including a clutch 4-yard pass to Gates with just over six minutes to play that brought the Chargers within three points.
Of course, this game will most be remembered for the botched field goal attempt at the end of the game by punter Drew Kaser, but the Chargers’ long-time quarterback was not the reason they lost this game. He played quite well in defeat.
Nov 6, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) runs the ball as Tennessee Titans defensive back Brice McCain (23) defends during the second half at Qualcomm Stadium. San Diego won 43-35. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
The Chargers scored 43 points against the Tennessee Titans in Week 9 and running back Melvin Gordon had a field day against them, making for our top individual performance of 2016.
Gordon carried the ball 32 times for 196 yards, the third-most rushing yards in a game in team history. Only LaDainian Tomlinson, has had more than that in a game.