Let me start by saying blitzes at the right time are great. So are blitzes that actually work and someone gets to the quarterback. Some of us were talking in the open game thread (thanks balloons!!!) when this play happened and I wanted to extend my opinion on blitzes on third and long.
Let's set the stage: Six and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter. Bills ahead 13-7. Chargers have the ball third and 12 from the Bills 14 yard line. I type, "They shouldn't blitz here. Drop everyone into coverage, rush three or four, and the odds are you will stop the Chargers short of the end zone." Why would I suggest this?
The real question is what do you have to gain by blitzing there? If you sack Rivers it knocks them back to the 20 to 25 yard line for a field goal. If the Chargers are stopped short of the first down or throw an incomplete pass you have the same exact outcome. If they are clearly in field goal range, drop and cover.
Here is what happened: The Bills rush 7 leaving poor rookie Leodis McKelvin one on one with Vincent Jackon. Jackson runs straight and McKelvin and picks a side to turn and Phillip Rivers throws it for the go-ahead TD. If the blitz is picked up, even for a second, the secondary is just a sitting duck and it's only a matter of time. The only way that blitz is effective is if the Bills sack Rivers and that would only result in a field goal being kicked anyways!
Everyone in the chat room is all over Leodis but you tell me, who can cover an NFL receiver one-on-one in space when all he has to do is turn one way and get the ball? Rivers was looking for the one on one and knew as soon as Jackson turns, unless McKelvin can guess correctly and somehow be quicker to the spot than Jackson, that it's a TD pass.
If a linebacker is underneath, perhaps the play is a pick (Kawika in zone on his pick) or a field goal. The backers were blitzing and out of the picture leavins McKelvin on an island. I'm not saying he couldn't have stopped it. I'm saying the odds are against it.
Just wanted to let you know how I saw it.