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No. 4 impact play: Defense reigns

3/4/2014

In this series, we count down 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 San Diego’s 16-yard line.

Score: Chargers and Bengals tied at 7-7.

Time: Two-minute warning before halftime of AFC wild-card game.

Williams’ take: Admittedly, Chargers linebacker Donald Butler was beat on this short pass play from Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton to running back Giovani Bernard over the middle. Bernard appeared ready to score, but a hustling Butler managed to strip the ball from behind, with cornerback Richard Marshall recovering the fumble on the 2-yard line, and advancing it to the 13-yard line. San Diego’s defense put together a dominant performance on the road against Cincinnati, holding the Bengals to 10 points. You could certainly point to a few other impact plays that game, including cornerback Shareece Wright's 30-yard interception return, and Melvin Ingram’s interception. But Butler’s forced fumble was the most impactful of the game.

Check out the play here.

Season impact: The play was a huge momentum swing for San Diego, as they avoided going down 14-7 on the road. The Chargers used a second-half surge to defeat the Bengals 27-10, but the momentum swing really started on this athletic play by Butler. This play is an example of why San Diego committed to pay Butler reportedly $20 million over the next three years. The Chargers are betting on the 25-year-old’s potential to develop into every-down, impact player, and the team’s defensive leader.

Quote: It’s huge. They just had a long drive for a touchdown, came back, and they were driving again. For him to be that aware and come back to get that ball – any turnover is big, but a turnover in the red zone is huge for us.” – Chargers outside linebacker Jarret Johnson on Butler’s forced fumble.