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Inside Slant - 12/16/08

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    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/bea4a68c-07a4-4e22-9d6b-7234cc229b9f.jpg"><img class="alignright" title="San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) lets go of the ball after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Chargers a 22-21 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs late in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)" src="http://assets.espn.go.com/media/apphoto/bea4a68c-07a4-4e22-9d6b-7234cc229b9f.jpg" alt="" width="201" height="165" /></a>Tick, tick, tick - the Chargers still had a playoff pulse Monday.</div>
    <p class="inside-copy">"It's good," coach Norv Turner said. "We're alive."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">How the Chargers got to Monday's spot is a bit baffling.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">They rallied for 12 points in the last 73 seconds in Kansas City, beating the Chiefs, 22-21.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Then the team they're chasing - the Broncos - fell to the Panthers.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers picked up one game and trail by two with two remaining.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers and Broncos play each other in the regular-season finale.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"We know it's going to be difficult," Turner said. "The only control we have is getting ready to go play and play at the best level we can in Tampa."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">It appeared for most of Sunday the Chargers would be headed to Tampa playing out the string. But they staved off elimination by rallying from a 21-3 deficit and did it in dramatic fashion.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">After Sunday's game, the Chargers need to exhale, but they really can't afford to relax.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Buccaneers figure to be in a sour mood after losing in overtime to the Falcons. Tampa Bay is fighting for its playoff hopes as well.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"We're playing a very good football team that has a lot to play for," Turner said. "It will be a real challenge for us."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers are finding out about climbing mountains. But they've shaved the Broncos lead to two and that flicker of hope remains in Chargers Park.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">But they also realize they need to beat the Bucs. The Chargers were hard-pressed to beat the 2-12 Chiefs for the second time in two months.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Those two one-point victories, though, mean Sunday's road contest is more than a ho-hum visit to Florida.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Kassim Osgood finds out Tuesday if he's made his third Pro Bowl as the AFC's special-teams selection. He proved his value Sunday when recovering an onside kick that allowed the Chargers to shock the Chiefs. "They were punching, scratching. ... I got a lot of wounds, yeah. That was crazy," Osgood said of the scrum at the Charger 39-yard line.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-C Jeremy Newberry was pressed into action when Nick Hardwick (concussion) left in the third quarter. Newberry started three games early in the year when Hardwick was out with a foot injury. Newberry would go Sunday if Hardwick is down.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LG Kris Dielman was ejected from Sunday's game for what many thought was a phantom punch. Turner said the team will send films into the league to question the ejection and potential fine. "Kris said he didn't (punch) anybody," Turner said. "Obviously, the officials say he did."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Dielman did seemingly through a forearm at K.C.'s Tamba Hali. "I can't believe they called that," said Scott Mruczkowski, Dielman's replacement.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Among the key passes Sunday was a 42-yard heave into a swirling wind from Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson. It seemed forever before it came down. "It was like a punt," WR Chris Chambers said with a smile. Added Rivers: "Throwing into that wind, it took all I had. I'm just glad Vincent came down with it."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-ILB Stephen Cooper snagged his team-high third interception in the game. All three have come in December; this one in the end zone.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LaDainian Tomlinson tied Marcus Allen for second place on the all-time touchdown rushing list at 123. "It's great to be tied for second," said Tomlinson who has eight rushing touchdowns this year. Tomlinson was more hyped about the win. "It's about time we won one like this," he said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Malcom Floyd remained overnight in a K.C.-area hospital with a collapsed lung. Coach Norv Turner said he was doing fine but didn't speculate on his availability this week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-C Nick Hardwick (concussion) will be watched closely during the week. There's a chance he is out on Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-SS Clinton Hart (neck) is looking to practice and possibly return this week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-FB Mike Tolbert (shoulder) is expected to play this week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-P Mike Scifres, and not K Nate Kaeding, smacked the critical onside boot which led to the Chargers' win. Scifres has a better touch and gets a higher bounce off his kick.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-TE Antonio Gates was again a big part of the passing game. Gates had a seven catches for 78 yards. In the previous four games, he had eight receptions for 65 yards.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">REPORT CARD VS. CHIEFS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASSING OFFENSE: B - Philip Rivers was sensational down the stretch where he led a dramatic rally which came mostly from the air. He threw for two touchdowns and did it behind a mix-and-match offensive line. He finished 34-of-48 passes for 346 yards. But he also lost two fumbles and threw an interception that was nearly returned for a touchdown. Rivers was getting smacked around pretty well by a pass rush that entered the game with but six sacks; he was sacked three times. The pass-blocking was up to par - two starters were out late in the game. WRs Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd were clutch; Antonio Gates reliable.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSHING OFFENSE: D - The Chargers couldn't run the ball with LaDainian Tomlinson averaging but 2.6 yards on 15 carries. He had a score, but just 39 yards as he was consistently met in the backfield. The line was missing RG Kris Dielman (ejected) and C Nick Hardwick (concussion) and it showed; Jeromey Clary was also being pushed around.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASS DEFENSE: B - The numbers allowed by QB Tyler Thigpen weren't gaudy - 171 receiving yards, one TD. But in the first half the pass coverage was soft, and the Chargers weren't tackling well after receptions, allowing the Chiefs to roll up first down after first down. That switched in the second half and the result was the Chargers getting back into the game. Stephen Cooper had a big pick in the first half in the end zone.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSH DEFENSE: A - DT Jamal Williams was a big-time force - in particular he smacked Thigpen on a run; Cooper had 11 tackles. The Chargers were hurt here mostly by Thigpen running for first downs from the shotgun or pistol formations. Larry Johnson averaged only 3.2 yards on 17 carries. The tackling here, though, was spotty.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">SPECIAL TEAMS: A - Great effort on the onside kick which gave the Chargers a chance. Mike Scifres supplied the kick, with Kassim Osgood wrestling away control of the ball. K Nate Kaeding had a 32-yard field goal in the wind. Coverage units were fine. Darren Sproles had a 40-yard kickoff return.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">COACHING: B - Coach Norv Turner's bunch came out flat - he says otherwise - in the first half. But the Chargers were manhandled on both sides of the ball and almost seemed disinterested in falling behind 21-3 at the half. But they came back with a renewed effort - coordinator Ron Rivera tweaked some personnel groups - and the result was one of the most unlikely Chargers victories in recent memory. Whether or not Turner was the reason the Chargers started playing with a purpose, can be debated. But he's been criticized enough so that when it does happen, he deserves his share of the credit.</p>
     

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