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Game Preview - Chargers at Bills

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Dec 2, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/6221240">Associated Press</a>

    <img width="291" height="199" title="Shawne Merriman gets to Bills quarterback J.P. Losman." alt="Shawne Merriman gets to Bills quarterback J.P. Losman." src="http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/albums/051120bills/KCchargers106.jpg" />

    LaDainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers have powered the NFL's most potent offense during the San Diego Chargers' five-game winning streak. Now Shawne Merriman returns to help a defense that has struggled at times during the team's run.

    Merriman, the 2005 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, will be back from a four-game suspension as the first-place Chargers (9-2) try for their longest winning streak in two seasons when they take on the Buffalo Bills (5-6) on Sunday.

    The Chargers extended their win streak last week, defeating Oakland 21-14 in the final contest of Merriman's suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

    "I think I'll be a little bit anxious waiting for Sunday to get here, but Sunday I'll be fine, just getting out there, flying around, knocking some heads," Merriman said.

    Merriman, a starter in the Pro Bowl last season, insists the failed test was caused by a tainted supplement and not steroids.

    "You have to understand that the kind of person I've been and the kind of person I am, there should be no question in nobody's mind - even though there will be - about my ability on the football field," Merriman said. "This is God-given talent and that's what I've been showing since I've gotten on a football field. I think over time everybody will see that and know that."

    The defensive end led the league with 8 1/2 sacks before the start of his suspension Nov. 1.

    The absence of Merriman's ferocious presence had a profound effect on San Diego's defense. The Chargers gave up 26.8 points per game without Merriman after yielding only 15.8 in the seven games with him.

    The Chargers powerful offense, though, was able to compensate, as the team averaged 34.3 points per game in winning the four games Merriman missed.

    "I was proud of those guys," Merriman said. "It was no doubt in my mind that they were going to win the games when I was out. A lot of people said they thought they'd got 2-2 without me, or 3-1. I said, 'No, you guys are going to win it all.' I can be nothing but proud of how they played in my absence."

    Tomlinson was a big reason why San Diego didn't miss a beat. The NFL's touchdown leader with 24, he scored 13 TDs and threw for one while Merriman was suspended.

    Tomlinson accounted for all three touchdowns in the Chargers' 21-14 win over Oakland last week, running for two scores and throwing his second TD pass of the season.

    The running back is four touchdowns shy of matching the single-season league record set last year by Seattle's Shaun Alexander, who was went on to win MVP honors.

    Tomlinson has been the focal point of an offense that tops the NFL with 353 points, but Rivers has also been a key component.

    Rivers, though, will be looking to rebound from his worst performance as a starter against the Raiders, as he went 14-of-31 for 133 yards, no TDs and one interception against the league's top-ranked pass defense. Three of his six interceptions this season have come in the last two games.

    The Chargers hope their 24-year-old quarterback returns to form as they look to win six in a row for the first time since an eight-game run in 2004 - the only time they won the AFC West in the previous 11 seasons.

    San Diego will be visiting Buffalo for only the fifth time since the AFL-NFL merger. The Chargers lost their last game there Dec. 15, 2002, but routed the Bills 48-10 at home Nov. 20, 2005.

    Rian Lindell kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give the Bills a 27-24 win over Jacksonville last week and consecutive victories for the first time this season.

    The Bills - winners of three of their last four games - have not won three in a row since a six-game streak from Nov. 21-Dec. 26, 2004.

    Special teams keyed the victory over the Jaguars, as Roscoe Parrish returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown and Terrence McGee brought a kickoff back 19 yards to set up Lindell's winning field goal.

    "Every team, everywhere is three-pronged. It's offense, defense and special teams, and it's not in any particular order," Bills coach Dick Jauron said. "You've got to believe that because if you don't, it'll come back and hurt you. And we do have a special group."

    Parrish leads the NFL with 319 yards on punt returns and a 13.9-yard average. McGee ranks fourth in the league with 26.5 yards on kickoff returns. Brian Moorman is the only punter still averaging at least 40 net yards (45.0).

    Sunday's win was also highlighted by the return of Bills running back Willis McGahee, who missed two games with three broken ribs.

    McGahee ran for two touchdowns and 63 yards on 12 carries, and he's expected to get more touches against San Diego.

    A healthy McGahee should help quarterback J.P. Losman, who has completed 71.2 percent of his passes in the last two games, including a 21-for-28 effort last week.

    "Certain things are going our way now that didn't go our way earlier in the season," Bills wide receiver Lee Evans said. "You can start to see the consistency starting to come along."

    The Bills, who posted a season high in points last week, have only turned the ball over twice in the last four games after committing 15 turnovers in the first seven contests.

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