Let me be among the first to reference the classic (in my mind, anyway) film “Rounders” to describe the thoughts of every San Diego fan (and fantasy owner) as Thursday’s game unfolded.
“Pay the man his money.”
Vincent Jackson, who had appeared in only two games prior to kickoff following an extended holdout and an injury, torched the 49ers for three touchdown receptions in the 34-7 blowout victory. He opened the rout with a 58-yard touchdown strike from Philip Rivers on the Chargers’ first possession. Jackson would later record 21 and 11-yard touchdown receptions and finished the game with five catches for 112 yards.
The Chargers entered the game without Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd, so there were faint whispers of “Upset!” in the air. That wasn’t going to happen on this night. Jackson and Rivers were not to be denied. In fact, the game became such a one-sided affair that the San Diego stars sat down early in the fourth quarter.
Jackson lost approximately $3 million and missed 10 games as a result of his extended holdout, but he sent a loud message to A.J. Smith and San Diego management with his dominance in this game. Jackson said all of the right things about the team and his desire to return in 2011 earlier in the week and then backed it up with an electrifying night in front of the home crowd. He demonstrated a ridiculous rapport with Rivers and backed up his holdout position.
San Diego now sits down to view the other AFC West teams in action on Sunday.
— It appears that the Broncos may turn to Tim Tebow against the Raiders. Obviously, they’re rooting for the rookie quarterback to bring his magic to the NFL, if only for a week.
They’ll then cheer for the Raiders in Week 17 against the Chiefs, but let’s take one game at a time.
— The spotlight game of the day obviously occurs in St. Louis, where the Rams host the division-leading Chiefs. Matt Cassel is slated to return, but this is a game with huge playoff implications on both sides. The Rams will not go down easily.
The Chargers then finish out the season with two road contests against the heretofore deplorable Bengals and the aforementioned Broncos. The finger-pointing has begun in Cincinnati, and both top receiving options are banged up. The Broncos have already dismissed a coach and can’t plug the holes fast enough.
The schedule’s set up for a fantastic finish. If this is any indication, Jackson is going to be front and center for the playoff push. And, if he delivers, he’ll get that cash back in short order.