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Breaks going Chargers' way

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.dailynews.com/sports/ci_3279465" target="_blank">LA Daily News</a>

    By Billy Witz

    <img src="http://www.bolttalk.com/images/merriman08.jpg" class="right" alt="Shawne Merriman" />SAN DIEGO - Ever since the Chargers spent the season opener with one hand tied behind their back - i.e., Antonio Gates tied to the bench - they've been fighting an uphill battle toward the playoffs.

    They played four teams coming off a bye, survived four trips to the East Coast, dealt with a spate of injuries and endured missteps of their own doing.

    Now, after a three-month struggle, they're finally headed downhill.

    The Chargers thumped the Raiders 34-10 on a chilly Sunday evening in front of 66,436 at Qualcomm Stadium for their fifth consecutive victory and fifth over their rivals, but it was hardly the only good news of the day.

    Before they even took the field, the Chargers' playoff prospects got a boost with Pittsburgh and Denver losing. That means if the playoffs started today, the Chargers would be in.

    "Everybody definitely paid attention to the early games," offensive tackle Shane Olivea said. "We knew the significance of what happened. Then we said, now, we've got to do our part."

    Suddenly, the Chargers (8-4) - whom some were beginning to wonder if they might win 11 games and not reach the playoffs - are only a game behind the Broncos (9-3). The Chargers play host to Denver in the season finale.

    "We're right in the thick of things," cornerback Quentin Jammer said. "We want to win our division."

    If they play as they did Sunday night, they just might as they played perhaps their most complete game of the season. After Michael Turner crashed in for a 2-yard touchdown run with 18 seconds left in the second quarter to put San Diego ahead 17-10 after a hard-fought first half, the Chargers dominated the second half.

    They forced three-and-outs on the Raiders' first three series of the second half as Oakland turned away from tailback LaMont Jordan. After Drew Brees' 1-yard touchdown pass to Eric Parker put San Diego ahead 24-10 with 4:59 left in the third quarter, the Chargers turned up the defensive pressure.

    Defensive end Luis Castillo and linebackers Donnie Edwards and Shawne Merriman belted Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins on three straight throws. And when the Raiders finally did get a first down, Collins followed it up by overthrowing a pass right to Chargers safety Clinton Hart, who weaved in and out of Raiders on his way to a 70-yard touchdown.

    If Hart, who was filling in for the injured Terrence Kiel, caught a break, so too are the rest of the Chargers.

    The Chargers' luck, so tough early in the season, is much better these days. They survived four passes into the end zone against the Jets last month and Brees' seemingly lethal interception was week at Washington turned out to be merely a scare.

    On Sunday, their first touchdown - a pass from a scrambling Breesto Gates in the back of the end zone - was originally ruled incomplete. But when Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer challenged the call, the officials ruled that Gates - despite bobbling the ball - secured it before he landed out of bounds.

    Schottenheimer has challenged eight calls this season and has been successful six times, which is almost as good as his record against the Raiders. He improved to 25-7 in his career against Oakland, the most victories by any coach.

    Not everyone is buying the increasing hype that the Chargers, who play at Indianapolis in two weeks, are the most serious threat to the Colts' unbeaten season or Super Bowl hopes.

    Raiders tailback LaMont Jordan sees the same team he and Curtis Martin ran over on his three trips to San Diego with the New York Jets.

    "The only team I see beating (the Colts) is Cincinnati and Denver," said Jordan, whose fumble led to the Chargers first touchdown. "I know one team won't. The Chargers still have to fight to get to the playoffs.

    "This is the first time I've ever lost to the Chargers here. I'm left with nothing but disappointment. I felt like we had their number here. They feel like they have our number."

    The Chargers are concerned with another number. That nine-game season they began after they were 4-5? It's down to four now: against Miami, at Indianapolis, at Kansas City and Denver.

    "There's no doubt in my mind we can (win out)," Olivea said. "A lot of people were looking at us as one-year wonders after the first few weeks. We definitely took the long and hard road here. Every first down, every snap is critical. We put ourselves in a hole and we're digging ourselves out slowly but surely."

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