Amidst a crowd that loudly booed Giants quarterback Eli Manning for much of the game, the San Diego Chargers beat the New York Giants Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium, keeping themselves alive (barely) as they chase for a playoff spot in a congested AFC race.
"It was huge for us, in terms of our confidence," said Chargers linebacker Donald Butler.
Added linebacker Jarret Johnson: "We needed this. We needed a big victory like this. It wasn't close, it wasn't coming down to the wire."
It was Johnson's first game at home since playing the Cowboys at the end of September.
"It felt phenomenal," he said. "To be able to run around and compete, even with all the stuff I'm dealing with, felt awesome."
San Diego shut out New York for the first half of the game and only allowed 14 points in the second. The offense rushed for more than 100 yards (their ninth time doing so in 13 games,) and Keenan Allen and Ryan Mathews both had strong showings, with two touchdowns and 29 rushes for 103 yards, respectively.
"We got up on top of these guys pretty early and put them out of their misery," said Allen. "They didn't really want to play anymore."
A 51-yard pass play put the Giants at the Chargers 32 on their second drive of the game, but an interception by Butler gave Philip Rivers back the ball. Three plays later, San Diego was on the board with seven points, after Rivers hit Allen for a 43-yard catch-and-run.
A 36-yard field goal attempt by Chargers kicker Nick Novak put San Diego up by 10 points. Late in the second quarter, Allen scored his second touchdown of the game (after leaving the field with an apparent shoulder injury, but then returning.)
"I fell too hard," Allen said. "Tried to get away from the contact but ended up having too much contact by myself. They took an x-ray of it and it was fine."
A touchdown pass to Danny Woodhead with 24 seconds left to play in the second quarter put San Diego up 24-0 as both teams headed into the locker room for halftime.
"Starting fast is important in all games," Woodhead said. "We were able to and it was big."
In the opening drive of the second quarter, a forced fumble caused Rivers to lose the ball at their own 18, and New York finally put points on the board with a rushing touchdown by Peyton Hillis. The Giants scored again in the fourth quarter to bring their points to 14.
San Diego would score in the third quarter, this time on a rushing play by running back Ryan Mathews, and in the fourth quarter, on a 27-yard field goal.
With less than two minutes to play, cornerback Shareece Wright intercepted Manning to end the game.
The Chargers will face the Denver Broncos Thursday night.
The good thing is we've played them before and we're familiar with them," Johnson said. "It's gonna be a short week. We can't look at the big picture. We've got to just keep plugging away."
***Linebacker Melvin Ingram played today for the first time this season, after tearing his ACL in May.
"It's just a blessing," Ingram said. "It's a blessing to be back and a blessing to get a victory."
***Rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen broke a team record Sunday, getting 60 catches his freshman year.
"Antonio [Gates] came up to me before the game and told me I only needed two catches to break the record," Allen said. "I didn't know. I was definitely surprised. It's nothing I expected to do coming in, but I'll take it."
***Sunday was the first time San Diego's projected starting offensive line played together since Week 3 of the season.
***With 3,332 career rushing yards, Ryan Mathews moved today to No. 5 all-time in Chargers history, passing Chuck Muncie (3,309).