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Bolts tame Lions, clinch AFC West

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 16, 2007.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    The AFC West Championship hats and shirts were waiting for the Chargers when they entered the locker room following an afternoon that saw the Bolts force six turnovers, hold Detroit to 26 rushing yards and post a season-high 416 yards.

    “It was just a fun day all around,” tight end Antonio Gates said.

    The Chargers scored on their first seven offensive possessions of the day and linebacker Shaun Phillips added a touchdown on the other side of the ball as the Bolts cruised to a 51-14 win Sunday and claimed their second-consecutive AFC West title and third division championship in four years.

    “The thing I’ve been talking about for a long time with our football team is being the most complete team,” Turner said. “We played great special teams, great run defense and created six turnovers. I thought we were complete on offense. Certainly I’m excited about the way we played and excited about winning the division.”

    The Bolts got things rolling early as LaDainian Tomlinson scored on a six-yard run on the Chargers’ first drive of the game. After a 22-yard Nate Kaeding field goal, Quentin Jammer tipped a Jon Kitna pass that was intercepted by Clinton Hart.

    The turnover gave the Chargers the ball at the Detroit 17-yard line and four plays later, Tomlinson found the end zone again from two yards out to make it a 17-0 game.

    “The guys were great up front,” said quarterback Philip Rivers. “We got the run game started right away and we kind of kept the pedal down for four quarters. We really felt if we jumped on them early we could be in complete control. That’s just what happened.”

    Quarterback Philip Rivers said he felt the Bolts’ offense found its best rhythm of the season in the first half. He credited the Bolts’ defense as well as Detroit managed just one first down in their first five drives.

    “It helps when the defense gets the ball three-and-out the first two or three possessions,” Rivers said. “Their defense was out on the field a lot early and we were clicking early. That had a lot to do with the fast start and putting the game away early.”

    Another Kaeding field goal pushed the lead to 20-0 midway through the second quarter when Phillips got the defense on the scoreboard. As Kitna was being pressured by Phillips and Matt Wilhelm, the Lions signal caller threw the ball right into Phillips’ hands. Phillips batted the ball up, caught it and raced 18 yards for the first touchdown of his career.

    Going into the game, Rivers was questionable with a knee injury. The Chargers’ large second-half lead allowed him to watch most of the second half, but when he was on the field, he certainly didn’t perform like a man in pain.

    The Bolts’ starting signal caller was 11-for-16 passing for 112 yards in the first half, and with 32 seconds remaining in the first half, he connected with tight end Brandon Manumaleuna for a one-yard touchdown to make it a 34-7 game at halftime.

    “I thought Philip was outstanding today,” Turner said. “He did a great job of getting himself ready to play. He was in the training room at 5:30 in the morning every day. It was important to him to play in this game.”

    Manumaleuna’s catch was set up by a 49-yard Tomlinson run, and LT’s longest carry of the day was also his last. The NFL’s reigning MVP made his way to the sideline with 116 yards and two touchdowns on the day. He turned over the reins to Darren Sproles and thanks to a career day by the third-year back, the Chargers continued to move the ball.

    Sproles finished the day with 122 yards rushing, marking the first time in team history the Chargers have had two players rush for 100 yards in the same game. On the opening possession of the second half, Sproles found the end zone for his first-career rushing touchdown to cap a 13-play, 85-yard drive.

    The Chargers held the ball 41:32 Sunday, their highest time of possession total this season. That statistic was aided by the fact that the Bolts forced six turnovers and rushed for 274 yards as a team, the second-highest single game total in team history.

    Kitna found a bit of a groove late in the third quarter as he drove the Lions 69 yards in 10 plays to make it a 44-10 game, but it was too little too late. On Detroit’s next possession, cornerback Antonio Cromartie delivered his 10<SUP>th</SUP> interception of the season to set a new single-season team record.

    Following Cromartie’s pick, the Bolts went right back to the ground. Sproles added an 11-yard touchdown run with 3:04 remaining to push the tally to 51-14.

    With Jacksonville defeating Pittsburgh Sunday, the Chargers are now in position to attain the third seed in the AFC for the playoffs. With so many players banged up, Turner said he’ll come up with a plan this week to remain competitive while getting his men some rest.

    He and his players promised a commitment to making sure the division championship isn’t the only thing the Chargers have to celebrate as the season winds down.

    “We’ve got a long way to go,” Rivers said. “This is the first step. We’ve got two weeks to keep getting better and still accomplish some things as far as seeding goes and all that. Then we know what comes after that.”

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