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A look back: Top 10 of ‘08

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Thursday, Feb 05, 2009
    By Casey Pearce , Chargers.com

    The 2009 season was filled with thrilling plays and memorable moments during the Chargers’ run at a third-consecutive AFC West title. Chargers.com breaks down the 10 most significant events that helped the Bolts reach the postseason for the fourth time in five seasons.

    10. Return to sender – What was a tight contest early in the Week 3 game against the Jets quickly came under the Chargers’ control when Antonio Cromartie’s acrobatic interception of a Brett Favre pass swung the momentum to the home team. Cromartie tipped Favre’s pass to Laveranues Coles and wrestled it away from the receiver before racing 52-yards to the end zone. The touchdown put the Chargers up 17-7 in a game they’d eventually win 48-29, their first victory of the season.

    9. Action from Jackson – Wide receiver Vincent Jackson’s seven catches of 40 or more yards were tied for second most in the NFL this season, and his penchant for big plays came in handy in Week 6 against New England. On the first play of the game, Jackson caught a 48-yard pass from Philip Rivers that set up the Chargers’ first score of the night and set the tone for the evening. The Chargers recorded three plays of 48 yards or more, two of which came from Jackson, in a key victory over the then defending AFC Champs.

    8. Not this time – In Week 10 against Kansas City, the Chiefs went to Tony Gonzalez four times on their final drive of the fourth quarter, including a three-yard touchdown catch by the All-Pro tight end with less than 30 seconds remaining. Rather than settling for the tie, the Chiefs opted to attempt a two-point conversion that would have given them a late lead. Tyler Thigpen aimed for Gonzalez again, but Clinton Hart batted the pass to the turf to deny Kansas City and give San Diego a key 20-19 AFC West win.

    7. Turning the tide – The Chargers were trying to break a three-game skid when the Raiders came to town in Week 14 for a Thursday night contest, and San Diego was desperate for a big play to give them a little momentum. Shaun Phillips provided just that on Oakland’s first possession of the night. Phillips’ sack and forced fumble was recovered by Jyles Tucker at the Raiders’ 12-yard line. Moments later, LaDainian Tomlinson scored a three-yard touchdown that gave the Chargers a 10-0 lead just minutes into the game that put the Bolts in the driver’s seat. The Chargers went on to win 34-7 to spark a memorable December run.

    6. – From way down town – Nate Kaeding’s 57-yard field goal on the final play of the first half in Week 16 was significant for two reasons. One, it was the longest kick in franchise history. Two, it proved to be a vital three points. While the Chargers went on to win 41-24, they were up just 17-10 when Kaeding split the uprights at the end of the second quarter. Tampa Bay scored 14-unanswered points in the third quarter to take control of the game, but their grip wasn’t as strong as it would have been without Kaeding’s kick. Instead of jumping ahead 24-17 in the third quarter, the Bucs were only up four at the start of the final frame. So when Philip Rivers connected with Antonio Gates on the first play of the fourth quarter, the Bolts took a three point lead rather than simply tying the game.

    5. Getting defensive – The Chargers won their division via the tiebreaker system, meaning one miscue along the way could have cost them the division. A Week 4 contest in Oakland could have very well been a tripping point were it not for two timely defensive plays in the second half. With the Chargers trailing 15-3 late in the fourth quarter, Shaun Phillips tipped a pass that was intercepted by Tim Dobbins. It set up a seven-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates to make it a one-possession game. On the Raiders’ ensuing drive, another clutch defensive play allowed the Chargers to take their first lead. Marques Harris’ sack, forced fumble and subsequent recovery opened the door for LaDainian Tomlinson’s 13-yard touchdown run that put the Bolts up for the first time on the day. The Chargers went on to win 28-18.

    4. Sealing the deal – While the first three weeks of December gave the Chargers new life, their magnificent run wouldn’t mean much if they were unable to cap it off with a Week 17 win over Denver. LaDainian Tomlinson’s one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, his first of three scores on the night, gave the Bolts a 10-7 lead, an advantage the Chargers wouldn’t let go. After LT’s first score allowed them to take control, the Bolts cruised to a 52-21 victory as they improved to 4-0 in December and won their third-consecutive AFC West title.

    3. The punt, the sack, the opportunity – With the Bolts down by three with 2:50 remaining in their Wildcard Playoff game, their only remaining hope was a timely punt from Mike Scifres and one more stop from their defense. They got both. Scifres capped an unforgettable night by dropping a beauty that checked up at the Colts’ one yard line and darted out of bounds. On 3rd-and-2 from the nine yard line on the ensuing series, the Colts needed just one simple completion to ice the game. Shaun Phillips’ refusal to let Dallas Clark off the line caused Peyton Manning to hold the ball just long enough for Tim Dobbins to deliver his first career sack. Indianapolis was forced to punt, and the Chargers capitalized with a 26-yard Nate Kaeding field goal to send the game to overtime.

    2. The kick, the hit, the recovery – Simply put, if this play doesn’t happen, the other three plays in the top four either don’t occur or don’t have much meaning. After the Chargers trailed 21-3 in the fourth quarter in Week 15 in Kansas City, they pulled within five with 1:13 remaining. They needed a miracle, and they got it when Mike Scifres’ perfectly-placed onside kick was jarred away from Dwayne Bowe by a viscous hit from Antwan Applewhite. Kassim Osgood recovered, and two Vincent Jackson catches later, the Bolts had their first lead of the day and kept their slim playoff hopes alive.

    1. Iso in OT – Darren Sproles’ 36th touch of the night proved to be the most memorable as his 22-yard touchdown run in overtime gave the Chargers a 23-17 victory over the Colts in an AFC Wildcard Playoff game. The play was called “Iso.” After taking a handoff from Philip Rivers, Sproles dashed outside, made two men miss and raced into the end zone for the score to cap an emotional night.

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