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Inside Slant - 12/11/07

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Dec 11, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    <p class="inside-copy"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20071209/capt.5df4115a90194f1bbb4a1292af06082c.chargers_titans_football_tnmh109.jpg" alt="San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner, left, runs into the end zone as Scott Mruczkowski (63) and Jeromey Clary (66) celebrate after the Chargers defeated the Tennessee Titans, 23-17, in the overtime period of an NFL football game in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2007." align="right" height="202" width="218" /> The Chargers were giddy Monday, and why not after their thrilling overtime win on Sunday in Tennessee.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> But the Chargers weren't exactly waltzing through their facility the day after.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> The fallout from the 23-17 victory was evident when coach Norv Turner pulled out his extensive list of injured players.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Atop that list is Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman and his sprained knee.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "Merriman won't play on Sunday and it could be a few weeks," Turner said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Merriman, a two-time Pro Bowler, leads the Chargers with 11.5 sacks after getting two in one half on Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> But Merriman isn't alone on that list.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Quarterback Philip Rivers hobbled to the podium, dragging along his sprained left knee. Rivers was hurt Sunday but thinks he will play next Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "I have every plan to," Rivers said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> But Turner wasn't as certain, listing Rivers as questionable for Sunday. If nothing else, it's obvious Rivers' practice time will be compromised as the Chargers, winners of three straight, face the visiting Lions on Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Pro Bowl fullback Lorenzo Neal is out Sunday and possibly the year. He fractured his fibula Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "I said, 'Geez Lo, it's a leg-whip or kick; you're going to be OK, right?'" running back LaDainian Tomlinson asked Neal. "He said, 'Oh yeah, I could have played.' I said, 'Yeah, right.'</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "It's a very big loss for us."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Pro Bowl nose tackle Jamal Williams (ankle) is also on the questionable list for Sunday. Same goes for right guard Mike Goff (ankle, foot).</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> The Chargers are banged-up but at least their psyche is fine after beating a winning team on the road for the first time this year. They hold a two-game cushion in the AFC West, and could clinch consecutive titles with a Denver loss Thursday and a Chargers win on Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> That would make everyone feel better.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Much was made of the TV shot of RB LaDainian Tomlinson bolting from the bench just when QB Philip Rivers sat down. But the teammates, who this year have had "competitive discussions" during games, claim everything is groovy. "I just got up to go say something to the linemen, just to tell them, 'Guys, listen, we're about to break some. Keep it going.'"</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers are convinced the Titans were guilty of cheap shots when taking out OLB Shawne Merriman in the first half. Some Chargers said they overheard some Titans saying Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher ordered the cheap shots after Fisher took issue with Merriman colliding with Titans QB Vince Young on a running play. "He was laying on the ground and two (Titans) offensive linemen came (and) jumped on him," S Marlon McCree said. "It was a real dirty play."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Merriman didn't return for the second half with a strained knee. Coach Norv Turner said the play in which Merriman was hurt, as well as others, would be sent to the league for clarification.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Despite starting but five games, CB Antonio Cromartie has tied a team record with nine interceptions in a season. He got his ninth on Sunday. "For me, it means a lot," he said. "But also, it's not a big concern to me. I just go out every day and just try to play football the right way. That's my biggest thing."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Cromartie tied the mark set by Charlie McNeal in 1961, the team's first year in San Diego. Cromartie said before the season his goal was 10 interceptions.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LT Marcus McNeill was getting manhandled by the Titans' Kyle Vanden Bosch early in the game when McNeill felt a tug on his shoulder pads. "We grabbed Marcus on the sideline and said, 'If you don't block this sucker, we ain't going to have a chance to win,"' Turner said. "We can't help everybody. He struggled early, and then he did a great job."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Vanden Bosch ended up with three sacks.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers now have one road triumph over a winning team (Titans), matching the number at home (Colts).</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers scored on three of their final four possessions to pull out the win. And the series they didn't score set up their winning score in that a Mike Scifres punt was downed at the San Diego 2-yard line.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">&nbsp;</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-QB Philip Rivers ran his starting record to 22-7.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-FB Andrew Pinnock will replace Lorenzo Neal.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-OLB Shawne Merriman became the sixth player in NFL history to record double-digit sack totals in his first three years. Merriman had two sacks Sunday, giving him a team-high 11 1/2 on the year. Merriman strained his knee Sunday and will be evaluated during the week. With Merriman out, Marques Harris gets the start.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RT Jeromey Clary will remain in the starting lineup, after replacing Shane Olivea.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB Darren Sproles (knee) wasn't able to go Sunday, and he could stay down another week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Luis Castillo (ankle) is still one-to-two weeks from playing.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-QB Billy Volek got a sniff of the field Sunday when Rivers was briefly forced to the sidelines. Volek's return to Tennessee didn't go so well as he threw an interception and an incomplete pass.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-TE Antonio Gates overcame a balky back in returning to play Sunday. He could be eased into practice this week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB LaDainian Tomlinson eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the second consecutive week and 42nd time in his remarkable career.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-P Mike Scifres has bruised ribs but will be OK to punt on Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> REPORT CARD VS. TITANS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> PASSING OFFENSE: B - Philip Rivers' numbers hardly scream for such a high grade: 21 of 40 for 228 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. But let's remember that he had 37 yards passing through the first three quarters before getting hot in the final 15 minutes and in overtime. In the fourth quarter, he was 11-for-19 for 149 yards and two touchdowns. When it counted - and when he was hobbling on a strained knee - Rivers played his best ball. Some clutch catches here by Chris Chambers to keep drives alive; Antonio Gates' game-tying score with nine seconds left came despite him playing with a bad back. The pass protection was horrible for the first three quarters, then Rivers got the time he needed. An amazing turnaround in this part of the game led to the win.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> RUSHING OFFENSE: A - LaDainian Tomlinson rumbled for 146 yards rushing and the game-winning score on 26 carries - a nifty 5.6-yard average. The blocks were keen on the runs, especially as the game wore on and the Titans run defense started to wear out. And that was big in that Pro Bowl FB Lorenzo Neal wasn't around for the latter stages of the game after breaking his leg. The running game, since Pro Bowl C Nick Hardwick returned three games ago, is starting to get its 2006 swagger back.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> PASS DEFENSE B - The pass rush was such that Titans QB Vince Young didn't make one significant play with his legs - when was the last time that was done? Shawne Merriman continued his second-half push to the Pro Bowl with two more sacks. Those were the Chargers' only sacks, but don't overlook the pass rushers staying true to their lanes and keeping Young contained. Antonio Cromartie stole another pass for a franchise-tying, single-season total of nine. LB Matt Wilhelm had a critical third-down pass defense late when knocking down a pass with his arm. The third layer of the pass defense was playing well as the Titans' wideouts had only 57 yards on five catches.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> RUSH DEFENSE: B - The Titans' LenDale White got his 113 rushing yards, but it took him 30 carries to get there. Kudos to DE Jacques Cesaire (seven tackles), who played with a thumb that was operated on six days earlier. DE Igor Olshansky has been on a hot streak and he continued to play well with five tackles.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> SPECIAL TEAMS: A - P Mike Scifres twice pinned down the Titans deep, once at the 2 and once at the 1, getting help from standout Kassim Osgood who hustled down. K Nate Kaeding had a 20-yard field goal as the biggest extra point of the season when tying the game with nine seconds left. Cromartie averaged 22.5 yards filling in on kick returns and rookie Craig Davis 14.7 yards on punts.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> COACHING: A - Norv Turner's team stayed the course as this game mimicked the Chargers' season - start slow and finish strong. With three straight wins, the Chargers are playing their best ball of the season after playing three horrible quarters of football in Tennessee. But they got it right by not getting down and becoming too frustrated when things were going haywire. Give Turner credit for instilling in the team to keep playing although the results weren't what they had hoped for. Turner got roasted early on, so he deserves praise for not letting a team fracture after a 1-3 start, a team that has now won seven of its past nine games.</p>
     

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