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SDUT: Bolts try to mend Mile High malady

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by ChargerRay, Sep 17, 2005.

  1. ChargerRay
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    ChargerRay Producer/Host of BoltTalk Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    By Jay Posner
    UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

    To most people, it is one of the NFL's jewels, a spectacular 4-year-old stadium located just west of downtown Denver and known by the long-winded name of Invesco Field at Mile High.

    To the Chargers, it is something else. Something unprintable.

    The stadium's corporate sponsor bills itself as "one of the world's leading independent investment managers," but it's hard to imagine any of the Chargers using its services. If they had as much luck investing as they have playing inside the stadium, they'd all need second jobs.

    Four times the Chargers and Broncos have met at Invesco Field, and each time San Diego has looked from the start as though it would rather be anyplace else.

    In 2001, it was 20-0 Broncos at halftime and 26-16 at the finish.

    In 2002, it was 19-0 Broncos at halftime and 26-9 at the finish.

    In 2003, it was 27-0 Broncos at halftime and 37-8 at the finish.

    In 2004, it was 13-3 Broncos at halftime and 23-13 at the finish.

    Four games, 79-3 Broncos at halftime, 112-46 at the finish. That's an average of 20-1 at halftime and 28-12 at the finish.

    That's awful.

    One thing about the Broncos and Chargers being in the same division, though: There's always next year. The teams will meet tomorrow in Denver.

    "It's been (tough) in the past, but we figure this year (it) will change," said quarterback Drew Brees, one of three Chargers (along with LaDainian Tomlinson and David Binn) to be active for all four Invesco games, even though he played only in 2002 and 2004.

    Brees is nothing if not an optimist, but he was basing his belief on something tangible.

    "We hadn't won in Kansas City in seven years (until) last year," Brees said, referring to the Chargers' first victory at Arrowhead Stadium since 1996.

    "So," he continued, "I don't see any reason why we can't go there (to Denver) and beat them this year."

    Asked what it would take to do that, several players immediately came to the same conclusion, that a fast start would help.

    "Just to build the confidence," said tight end Antonio Gates, who will make his season debut tomorrow. "We want to go out there, hit them in the mouth and start playing hard right away. . . . It's their first home game, they're going to be intense. We need to match that."

    Said Brees: "I think we take a lot of pride in (starting fast) and I think especially on the road in a place like Denver you want to do whatever you can to get that crowd out of the game.

    "Going down and scoring on that first possession would definitely help us out in that regard."

    It's more than the crowd, of course. Denver's fast starts have all but taken Tomlinson out of the four games at Invesco because the Chargers have been in catch-up mode.

    In his first three games in Denver, Tomlinson had 14, 14 and eight carries. When the game was a little closer last year, he had 22. Still, he has never gained more than 75 yards at Invesco, nor has he scored a touchdown. Brees, meanwhile, threw two interceptions there in 2002, and last year he was 14-of-29 for only 121 yards with four sacks.

    "A lot's changed between then and now," Brees said.

    There's another potential danger should the Chargers again struggle early in tomorrow's game.

    "I think it can be a psychological thing," Tomlinson said, "especially with guys who have played there and know how it is. You fall behind and start to think, 'Man, this can get tough.' You've got to block that out of your mind and keep on plugging away."

    There is one Charger who knows success at Denver. In 2001, Marty Schottenheimer coached Washington to a victory, one of only nine home defeats suffered by the Broncos in 32 games at Invesco. Then again, he's 0-3 there with the Chargers. So what does it all mean?

    "We've got to go execute," Schottenheimer said. "Then you've got an opportunity to succeed."

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