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Chargers enjoy Pro Bowl week

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Feb 13, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.chargers.com/">Chargers.com</a>

    <img width="296" height="150" alt="Chargers at the 2006 Pro Bowl" id="image1927" src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/02/343_all06probowlers.jpg" />

    By Scott Yoffe

    HONOLULU- The National Football League showcased the talents of 84 of its top performers on Sunday afternoon at the 2006 Pro Bowl. Defense was the story of the day as the NFC capitalized on six turnovers and came away with a 23-17 victory over the AFC in a game played before a crowd of 50,190 at Honolulu's Aloha Stadium. Six Chargers, the most in 23 years, suited up for the AFC side in a game which began in a steady downpour but ended under sunny skies.

    "It was a real good week," said Jamal Williams, who after eight seasons of battling in the trenches finally got a chance to play in his first-career Pro Bowl. "I enjoyed myself down here and met a lot of good guys. I was excited. It was too bad we didn't come away with the win, but it was a good experience."

    Williams did not record any tackles, but on the opening drive of the third quarter he broke up a pass thrown by Carolina's Jake Delhomme and nearly came away with an interception. That play came on a third-down and forced a punt by the NFC. Williams was joined in the defensive starting 11 by linebacker Shawne Merriman, who finished the game with three tackles and a forced fumble. Despite being a rookie, Merriman saw action throughout the game, including the waning moments as the game was still in the balance.

    "I enjoyed myself the whole entire week," said Merriman. "I topped it off today by playing the entire game with all the guys I grew up watching. It's going to be my first of many if I just keep working hard."

    Merriman didn't truly get a chance to showcase his skills as one of the NFL's top pass rushers. At the Pro Bowl, teams are not allowed to blitz and the defenses play in a 4-3 alignment, relegating the linebackers to the roll of stuffing the run and covering short and intermediate passing routes. It was a new role for Merriman, who primarily rushes the passer in the Chargers' 3-4 defense and this season led all NFL rookies with 10 sacks.

    "I was doing something a little different this week," explained Merriman about his differing role for the Pro Bowl. "But we made it to game day and I came out and played a good game."

    LaDainian Tomlinson played in his third-career Pro Bowl on Sunday. He was limited to 31 total yards on the day, but 24 of those came on a second-quarter field goal drive that helped the AFC jump out to a 10-3 advantage. Looking back on the week, he really felt as though this week offered one of the best experiences that he's had at the Pro Bowl.

    "It was good," said Tomlinson. "I enjoyed being here and hanging out with all the guys and my peers so I had a great time. It was really a blast, one of the best times I've had over here at the Pro Bowl."

    Tomlinson's fullback, Lorenzo Neal, was also here on Sunday, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl for the first-time as a San Diego Charger. It was an honor that was long overdue for the man whose been a lead blocker for nine-straight 1,000-yard rushers. Each team only had one fullback on the roster so Neal saw extensive playing time. Being a 13-year veteran who has now only played in two Pro Bowls during his career, Neal cherished the opportunity to return to Hawaii to line up alongside some of the NFL's best.

    "It was great. The only thing that was missing was that extra $20,000," said Neal, referring to the difference in the winners' and losers' shares from the game. "But it was fun. It was a great time and a great week, just the experience itself of being in the Pro Bowl. I really enjoyed it. I definitely want to be back here and the next goal is to win the Super Bowl so we don't have to practice as many days."

    Antonio Gates played in his second-career Pro Bowl on Sunday. NFC defenders held him to just two catches for seven yards and Tampa Bay's Rhonde Barber made a great play to keep Gates from scoring a touchdown in the second quarter. Despite the limited offensive production, Gates was all smiles when asked to recount what this week was like for him.

    "It's wonderful being over here with some of the great guys in the whole NFL and we were out here having a lot of fun," said Gates. "Unfortunately we couldn't win the game, but it was a lot of fun this week."

    Hanik Milligan didn't disappoint as the first-ever Charger to be voted in to the Pro Bowl as a special teamer. He finished the game as the leading tackler on special teams, racking up three stops. The opportunity to play on the NFL's all-star stage was not lost on Milligan, a third-year player for the Bolts.

    "It was one of the greatest weeks I've ever had being a professional football player," said Milligan. "I enjoyed myself with all the great players in the league and had a good old time. It was like being a kid again and it just kind of got me motivated to play hard every snap and just go out there and make plays."

    Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks was named the MVP of the Pro Bowl after returning an interception 59 yards for a touchdown to break a 10-10 tie in the third quarter. It was one of four interceptions thrown by AFC quarterbacks on the day. The AFC scored their two touchdowns on a 16-yard pass from Indianapolis' Peyton Manning to Miami's Chris Chambers in the first quarter and a one-yard run by Kansas City's Trent Green in the fourth. Green's touchdown tied the game at 17-17, but a 22-yard field goal by Arizona's Neil Rackers on the ensuing drive, one of three on the day, gave the NFC the lead for good. The NFC added a late field goal following a fumble by Tennessee's Steve McNair and held on for the 23-17 win.

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