At the start of the season nobody would have predicted Ryan Mathews to surpass Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings in total yards from scrimmage, yet the Bolts’ back finished with 1,444 yards while Peterson completed his campaign with 1,437 yards. Peterson didn’t play in his final two games due to injury, but the fact of the matter is, Ryan Mathews, San Diego’s premium running back has finally stepped out of the shadows of LaDainian Tomlinson and erased the title of a draft bust.
Fumbling problems, broken collarbones and high ankle sprains were erased from memory as the crowd at Qualcomm stadium cheered to Mathews’ 44 yard dash against the Kansas City Chiefs before stiff arming a defender to end his run. Mathews would top off his sixth 100-yard game of the season ending up tied for tops in the NFL with LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles. Before the 2013 season, Mathews had never recorded a run of 40 yards or more. This season he did it twice, including seven runs of 20 yards or more.
Mathews has finally come into form and playing football much like the player the Chargers had envisioned since trading up for him in the 2010 draft. In Mathews’ four years in the NFL, 2013 was the first season he’s played in all 16 games. In the past Mathews never shied away from the media, voicing his plans to become a workhorse back and the desire to model a career to Tomlinson. Rather this was a season Mathews quit talking and let his actions on the field speak.
The Chargers have lacked a decent rushing attack for several years, but with the team of Mathews and the slippery Danny Woodhead, the Chargers have the balance to finally compete. Thus, their rise to the playoffs has finally arrived after a three-year drought.
Mathews’ confidence in his abilities will be central to the Chargers’ overall ability to make a strong run in the playoffs.
Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports
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