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Inside Slant - 11/18/08

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Nov 18, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm" target="_blank">USA Today</a>
    <div class="inside-copy"><a href="http://assets.espn.go.com/media/apphoto/17de24e5-5c0e-43f8-aeb6-bdddbb6a6c1c.jpg"><img class="alignright" title="Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark, left, grabs at San Diego Chargers running back LaDainlian Tomlinson as he runs for a first down in the second half of the NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008. The Steelers won 11-10. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)" src="http://assets.espn.go.com/media/apphoto/17de24e5-5c0e-43f8-aeb6-bdddbb6a6c1c.jpg" alt="" width="177" height="170" /></a>LaDainian Tomlinson is nothing if not honest.</div>
    <p class="inside-copy">While a parade of Chargers were spinning the positive Monday - in wake of the team's third loss in four games Sunday in Pittsburgh - Tomlinson delivered a dose of truth serum about the team's dwindling playoff hopes.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"I think so, I really do," Tomlinson said. "We are two games back. We are not out of it, but it's like blown opportunities we keep on talking about when we could have easily been tied with Denver right now."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers, at 4-6, are in a world of hurt. While their next three games are at home, they come against a surging Colts team, an improved Falcons squad and their biggest divisional foe, the Raiders.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">After falling 11-10 to the Steelers, the sands in this season's hour glass are being depleted fast.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"And whenever you keep blowing opportunities, then at some point as they say, opportunities don't come about anymore," Tomlinson said. "It's like when the opportunity comes, you open the door and take it, and if you don't, it will pass you by and go to someone else."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">So are the Chargers - a team that once had Super Bowl dreams - cooked?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"I wouldn't go that far to say we are done because anything can happen with six games," he said. "It does look slim, but we're not done yet."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">So Tomlinson marches on, but he knows the Chargers are running short of time.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"To me you always got to think positive - think positive and positive things happen," he said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">But the Chargers are absolutely, positively against the NFL wall.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Just ask L.T.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-It had to pain Chargers general manager A.J. Smith to see Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu all over the field in Sunday's win over the Chargers. Smith had a chance to draft Polamalu out of USC, but he traded down to select DBs Sammy Davis and Terrence Kiel.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB LaDainian Tomlinson said the team misses veteran FB Lorenzo Neal's experience. Neal was let go and replaced by undrafted rookie Mike Tolbert. The team thought Andrew Pinnock would replace Neal, but a knee injury derailed that idea.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DT Jacques Cesaire said the defensive outlook has changed with Ron Rivera as coordinator; Rivera replaced Ted Cottrell two games ago. "When Ron came in, he kind of demanded a lot from us," said Cesaire, who had two sacks in the loss at Pittsburgh. "He said we were better and we would play better."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Coach Norv Turner said he can't remember an offensive output like Sunday's. "I can't say I've been in a game where you had two possessions in the half."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Unlike Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger apologizing to his teammates after a tough loss, QB Philip Rivers didn't follow suit. "I don't think they need to hear it," he said after throwing two picks and fumbling the ball in the end zone. "They know what it means to me, and to me there is no need to step up and say, 'I know I messed up.'"</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-S Steve Gregory (neck) should return to action this week after missing one game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DT Luis Castillo (groin) underwent an MRI and he could be limited this week in practice.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-ILB Stephen Cooper returned to the game after hyperextending his elbow. He should go Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-CB Cletis Gordon (knee) remains a week away from returning to practice.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-CB Quentin Jammer was again bothered by cramps in the latter stages of a game. He should be fine this week, but it was the second time cramps have driven him to the bench in critical junctures of the game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">REPORT CARD VS. STEELERS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASSING OFFENSE: D - Philip Rivers had his worst game of the season as he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble that the Steelers converted into a safety. Rivers' interception in the red zone just before the half turned out to be a killer in a game in which points were at such a premium. The Chargers, and Rivers, didn't get much of a chance for many offensive opportunities, as they had only two second-half possessions. But Rivers' rating of 43.6 was no fluke, with 15 completions on 26 attempts for a season-low 159 yards. Vincent Jackson had two catches for 25 yards but also had a big drop. Surprisingly, with the tenacious Steelers' pass rush, Antonio Gates was found only twice for 10 yards.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSHING OFFENSE: D - The Chargers collected just 66 rushing yards, as LaDainian Tomlinson was restricted to 57 yards on 18 carries. He did break his streak of not rushing for a touchdown, which dated to the Sept. 28 game in Oakland. But the run-blocking was challenged by a stout Steelers run defense, and it showed. Darren Sproles got one carry for 0 yards - just not many plays were to be had with the Steelers hogging the ball.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASS DEFENSE: C - Ben Roethlisberger threw for 308 yards, which is a lot considering the weather conditions, and the Chargers did sack him four times. But when the Chargers really needed to stop Roethlisberger, they couldn't. He completed six consecutive passes to lead the Steelers to their go-ahead field goal. S Eric Weddle had a solid game - maybe one of his best in the NFL - with 11 tackles. CB Quentin Jammer had a game-high 12 tackles.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSH DEFENSE: D - Willie Parker returned to action, and despite wearing a harness to protect his injured shoulder, he ran for 115 yards as the Steelers went for 124. The Chargers continually got hurt on runs up the middle, and it was the run defense's inability to stop Parker that allowed the Steelers to keep the ball for such long stretches in the second half.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus - P Mike Scifres continues to play at a high level - he averaged 43.5 yards on two efforts. But it was his booming 75-yard free kick after the safety that flipped the field-position advantage back to the Chargers. Nate Kaeding converted one field goal but misfired on a 42-yard attempt in the fourth quarter that would have changed the complexion of the game. The return game was no factor.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">COACHING: D - The defense is showing some new life under Ron Rivera, as it recorded four sacks and held the Steelers to three field goals - teams usually win games playing like that. But it also must be noted that the same defense couldn't get off the field in the second half, which limited what the Chargers' usually potent offense could do. Offensively, San Diego had a bad game, and that is more about bad decisions by Rivers and the lack of opportunity with the Steelers playing keep-away. Norv Turner will be tested over the next couple of weeks to keep the Chargers believing that they still have a chance to make the playoffs.</p>

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