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Inside Slant - 1/2/07

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Jan 2, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm">USA Today</a>

    <img width="297" height="198" alt="Cardinals QB Kurt Warner sacked by Igor Olshansky in the second half." title="Cardinals QB Kurt Warner sacked by Igor Olshansky in the second half." src="http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/albums/061231cardinals/SMHchargers260228x002.jpg" />
    <div class="inside-copy">The Chargers survived the final game of the regular season, but it didn't come without same anxious moments.</div>
    <p class="inside-copy">In cruising to the 27-20 win over the Cardinals, the Chargers won for the 10th straight time and secured the AFC's top seed. They are off this weekend, then welcome either the Chiefs, Patriots or Jets - whichever of the lowest seeds prevail in the wild-card matchups - on Jan. 12 or 13 at Qualcomm Stadium.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">But in Sunday's win, quarterback Philip Rivers had his foot twisted in an odd manner on a sack and suffered a sprain. He hobbled around after that before giving way to Billy Volek toward the end of the third quarter.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Rivers, though, said he is fine.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"To me it's not the biggest news of the day and I know it's not," said Rivers, who didn't undergo an X-ray or take a pain-killing shot. "I know you all think it is but it's what we did (Sunday) and we accomplished this year."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers also swallowed hard when running back LaDainian Tomlinson came up with a hitch in his giddy-up. Tomlinson's leg was stepped on during a tackle and he left the game early, too.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"It's nothing," said Tomlinson, the first NFL rushing king in Chargers history. "It wasn't the reason I came out of the game. The Coach wanted to sit me down. Like I said, it isn't a big problem."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">If either went down it would be a huge problem for the Chargers. But it appears both dodged getting bit by the injury bug at the most inopportune time.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers not only paced the NFL in scoring this year but they set a team record with 492 points. "If anyone deserves credit, it's those guys up front," quarterback Philip Rivers said. That includes rookie LT Marcus McNeill, who was among the biggest surprises this season for the Chargers. "To go 14-2 in my first year, I feel blessed," McNeill said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Among the game highlights was FB Lorenzo Neal's season-long, 43-yard run late in the fourth quarter. Neal got in the clear, then rumbled alongside Robert Griffith before the veteran safety finally brought him down. "He's always telling us how much speed he has," Tomlinson said of the bruising Neal. "When he got out in the open I saw the speed he had 13 years ago. That was like watching two turtles racing."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Backup QB Billy Volek saw his first action of the season, subbing for an injured Rivers.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"It felt great," said Volek, who arrived in a trade with the Titans on Sept. 19. "Just to get out there and play with the guys."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Rivers said he had confidence in Volek, a seven-year pro who completed one-of-two attempts for four yards. "Shoot," Rivers said, "Billy has played in a million games."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Volek took one snap to end the first quarter, then watched Rivers return. Volek returned on the Chargers' last series of the third quarter and closed out the win.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-While it appears Rivers and running back LaDainian Tomlinson escaped injury, the same might not be true for DE Jacques Cesaire. The valuable backup exited on a cart in the first half and didn't return. Cesaire has been a plus subbing for Luis Castillo as he sat out the final two games with a sprained ankle. His status for the playoff game on Jan. 12 or 13 wasn't immediately known.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Luis Castillo is on schedule to play in the playoffs after missing the last two games with a sprained ankle.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Eric Parker will likely return to his punt-return duties in the postseason after giving way to Cletis Gordon the regular-season final.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-K Nate Kaeding set a team kick-scoring record with 136 points this season. John Carney had 135 in 1994.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB LaDainian Tomlinson finished with 1,815 rushing yards, the first Chargers to lead the NFL in rush.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Vincent Jackson, with a touchdown catch on Sunday, has three touchdowns in two games.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-TE Antonio Gates found the end zone with a scoring catch for the first time in three games.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">REPORT CARD VS. CARDINALS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus - The Chargers breathed a sigh of relief as Rivers was back on his game, not looking like the quarterback who struggled the past two games. He set career-high with a .792 completion percentage, hitting 19-of-24 for 231 yards and two scores. Vincent Jackson continues to be a favorite target and Antonio Gates snagged the other touchdown. Pass protection was decent, although Rivers' evasiveness was compromised by a foot injury.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSHING OFFENSE: A - The big boys up front cleared the way for 169 rushing yards as they open holes against a Cards front which was pretty active. LaDainian Tomlinson carried it but 16 times for a 4.1-yard average. Michael Turner proved again he's among the best backup running backs in the league as he averaged 5.3 yards on 11 carries. The real shocker was FB Lorenzo Neal rumbling for a season-high 43 yards on a carry.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASS DEFENSE: C - With not much of a pass rush - just one sack - Kurt Warner had the time to expose the secondary on occasion. He finished with 356 yards and a touchdown pass as he consistently had time to go through his reads and find the open man. Quentin Jammer had a decent day with seven tackles; Drayton Florence matched that number but was burned on occasion.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSH DEFENSE: A - The Cards couldn't reach the century mark as a team and Edgerrin James was held to 66 yards, although the Cards weren't very committed to the run as James ran only 16 times. Igor Olshansky was a force in stopping the run and Jamal Williams was a beast again in the middle.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">SPECIAL TEAMS: A - Tim Dobbins fell on a muffed punt in the Cards' end zone, which swung the momentum toward the Chargers. Nate Kaeding kicked two more field goals as he continues to prove his Pro Bowl selection was warranted. P Mike Scifres had three efforts land inside the 20, and none of them bounce in for a touchback. Good stuff here this week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">COACHING: A - Marty Schottenheimer became the sixth NFL coach to reach the 200-win plateau in the regular season. He baited the Chargers to give it their best effort against a cellar-dwelling teams looking forward to the offseason. But his players were focused and displayed an amazing amount of energy for a squad that was riding a nine-game winning streak (now 10) and was playing for the 14th straight week after getting an early-season bye.</p>
     

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