No. 5 impact play: Mathews rumbles

In this series, we countdown the top 10 impact plays for the San Diego Chargers that helped shape the team’s 2013 postseason run.

Situation: First-and-10 from the Denver’s 23-yard line.

Score: Chargers lead 17-10.

Time: Eleven minutes, 14 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Williams’ take: This play was not Ryan Mathews' most impressive run of the 2013 season, but perhaps it had the most impact, as he used both speed and power to get into the end zone on this 23-yard touchdown. The impressive run took place in the second half, so Mathews showed he still had some gas left in the tank. What I like the most about this play is Mathews’ trademark speed to stretch the defense, his decisiveness and vision in choosing a hole and then the burst at the end of the play to get into the end zone, giving San Diego a 24-10 lead in the second half against the Broncos.

Check out the play here.

Season impact: Mathews showed he can be a productive, every-down back, displaying toughness and reliability in playing a full, 16-game season for the first time in his four-year professional career. In the final season of his rookie contract, Mathews has to go out and prove it again to earn that lucrative, second deal. San Diego’s ability to consistently run the ball took pressure off of Philip Rivers to make every critical play on offense. The Chargers need a healthy Mathews to once again have similar production on offense in 2014.

Quote: “I love blocking for Ryan. Ryan just makes people look bad on the field. DB’s don’t want to hit him. They’re scared of him because he’s physical with them.” – Chargers offensive lineman D.J. Fluker on blocking for Mathews.