With Ryan Mathews having missed so much time and the confidence existing in his backfield mates, the Chargers were committed to a rotation at the position, possibly to a fault. Mathews was rotated out following a 19-yard run in the second quarter, and the drive stalled shortly thereafter with a quarterback Philip Rivers interception on third-and-goal.
For that matter, Mathews spent much of the second quarter on the sideline, as the Chargers were in their two-minute offense to end it.
He was the offense's central point to begin the third quarter, capped the team's opening drive with a 32-yard touchdown. The scoring run was the longest of his career.
Mathews exited with a shoulder injury when at least one player, perhaps two, fell on top of him. He returned late in the fourth quarter.
The Chargers are committed to keep Mathews fresh and healthy, although that didn't seem to help this week. But they want Donald Brown and now Branden Oliver to get their work so Mathews is ready to go at key parts of the game, and perhaps more importantly, in the playoffs. Mathews was banged up last year after a stretch of 20-plus carries to end the season and wasn't himself in the postseason. As a result, Mathews' fantasy value will likely be capped, but so far he's making the most of his touches. It's also not a friendly SOS pretty much the rest of the season.