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Bolts down ‘Boys, 31-17

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 10, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Among the keys to the Chargers’ success late last season as they made a run to the AFC Championship Game were their penchant for creating turnovers, their ability to win the field position battle and their timely offensive play that allowed them to capitalize on their takeaways and special teams play.

    That was exactly the formula the Bolts followed in their preseason opener Saturday night as they rolled to a 31-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Qualcomm Stadium.

    “We want to protect the ball and we want to create turnovers,” said Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner, whose team committed just one penalty Saturday. “We want to play field position. We did those things. When we gotten them backed up, our guys did a great job of keeping them backed up and forcing them to punt. We got great field position and were able to take advantage of it a couple times.”

    Things got off to a bit of a slow start for the Chargers as they were forced to punt on their first two possessions of the night, the first of which led to a Dallas touchdown. The Cowboys took a quick 7-0 lead when fullback Deon Anderson’s two-yard touchdown capped a quick eight-play drive. It was the only lead Dallas would see on the night.

    “It wasn’t exactly the way we wanted to come out,” linebacker Matt Wilhelm said. “They drove the ball on us and made some plays, but we settled in and got some good things accomplished tonight.”

    Midway through the first quarter, the Chargers got a spark from their special teams unit when defensive back Paul Oliver forced Dallas punt returner Danny Amendola to fumble and Brandon Siler came up with the lose ball. After a 33-yard pass interference penalty put the Chargers on the doorstep, rookie running back Jacob Hester got the Bolts on the board with a one-yard touchdown run.

    The Chargers’ defense got into the act on Dallas’ ensuing drive when linebacker Jyles Tucker pressured Cowboys quarterback Brad Johnson and forced an errant throw. Cornerback Quentin Jammer was waiting with open arms, and his 11-yard return gave the Chargers the ball near midfield.

    “It was an important to get into a rhythm and obviously we created two turnovers defensively and that’s become our trademark and that’s important,” Turner said.

    Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, playing in his first game since undergoing offseason ACL surgery, showed no signs of a man coming off a major injury. The Bolts’ starting signal caller played four series Saturday night and went 5-of-6 passing for 54 yards and no interceptions as he led the Chargers on two scoring drives. The second touchdown, a five-yard run by Darren Sproles, was set up by a pair of 21-yard completions to Chris Chambers and Sproles on consecutive plays.

    Rivers said his knee wasn’t even in the back of his mind and he was pleased with the way the first-team offense performed.

    “We were efficient, Rivers said. “We didn't turn it over or have any penalties in the first half. That's a good sign that you're not making any silly mistakes in the first preseason game.”

    Sproles’ impressive night included a 25-yard punt return in the second quarter that allowed the Chargers to take over at the Dallas 43 yard line. That led to a 53-yard Nate Kaeding field goal that gave the Chargers a 17-7 lead.

    The Chargers starters played just into the second quarter, but after their exit, the Bolts’ depth showed up. Just before halftime, Mike Scifres pinned the Cowboys deep with a 42-yard punt that was downed at the Dallas six yard line, and after a sack by linebacker Marques Harris, the Cowboys were forced to punt from their own end zone.

    The Chargers quickly capitalized on the field position as fullback Mike Tolbert plunged into the end zone from a yard out to give the Bolts a 24-7 lead just before halftime.

    A 35-yard Nick Folk field goal on the final play of the second quarter cut the deficit to 24-10, but that was as close as Dallas got. After forcing the Cowboys to punt on their opening drive of the second half, the Bolts extended their lead on their first possession of the half. Billy Volek led the Chargers on a six-play, 55-yard drive that culminated with Hester’s second touchdown of the night, a two-yard run.

    “I think Jacob is off to a good start,” Turner said. “He’s what we expected him to be. He’s got a knack for running the football. He’s a good football player and he brings that energy that you want to the football team.”

    Dallas responded with a long drive of their own, marching the ball 75 yards on nine plays with running back Tashard Choice capping it with a 19-yard touchdown run, but the rookie’s long run rounded out the scoring. The Chargers were able to kill the clock with two 11-play drives in the fourth quarter to hold on for the victory.

    “When you step on the field, your goal is always to win,” safety Eric Weddle said. “The starters got some good work and once we were done, we cheered for the younger guys to finish it out. It was nice to see them do that.”

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