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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Dec 12, 2006.

  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="295" height="208" alt="SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 10: Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers calls out in the first half against the Denver Broncos on December 10, 2006 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the Broncos, 48-20. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)" title="SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 10: Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers calls out in the first half against the Denver Broncos on December 10, 2006 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the Broncos, 48-20. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)" src="http://us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/sp/getty/27/full.getty-71465463lb023_broncos_charg_9_57_30_pm.jpg" />
    <div class="inside-copy">It's the perfect opponent for a team which is celebrating one of the most celebrated games in team history.</div>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers are winning and San Diego is still buzzing about clinching the AFC West title and LaDainian Tomlinson setting the NFL touchdown mark on Sunday. The Chargers' spot in the postseason is assured and at 11-2, nobody has a better mark.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">So the Chargers might be an easy mark on Sunday, more concerned about what they've accomplished than what lies ahead.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Except the team coming to San Diego is Kansas City, the last team to slap a loss on the Chargers.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "It's good timing, I guess is the way to put it," said quarterback Philip Rivers of the Chiefs 30-27 verdict over the Chargers. "Kansas City is coming to town and they beat us early in the year. They are playing for a ton, as are we. They are coming in here as hungry as ever.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"And we have a lot to play for and I think that is what we understand. So I think it is a perfect timing coming off the high we are coming off of to having a Kansas City team come in here.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"That loss still hurts in a way and we will be ready for them."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Coach Marty Schottenheimer said among his playoff-bound team's attributes is its ability to concentrated from week to week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"Our guys have maintained focus throughout," he said. "But I think Kansas City still has an opportunity to get into the tournament and I would be less than candid if I was to say to you the fact that we lost there isn't going to be something that we don't think about here."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Tomlinson has another reason to welcome the Chiefs. Some of the post-game remarks back in October were slaps at the Chargers.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"What sticks out in my mind is them calling us soft last time," Tomlinson said. "Obviously as a player when someone calls you soft you don't like it too much. Finesse team, or whatever you want, we are not a soft team, we are not a finesse team. We can play any game that you want us to play.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"So obviously they beat us and that was our last loss, but then again they said we were soft. So we'll see."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Second-year pro Vincent Jackson continues to have his number called and he is responding. With Keenan McCardell ailing with a bad calf, Jackson got the start. And this game will be fondly remembered, unlike his previous home game when he had his fumble/illegal forward pass, which still has the Raiders fuming. Among his contributions were a career-long 55-yard, over-the-shoulder reception which perched the Chargers at the Denver 12 early in the fourth quarter. The Chargers settled for a Nate Kaeding field goal, but the catch helped a wobbly team regain momentum. "He's improving every week," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "He can be a game-changer."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-After missing four games with an ankle injury, Luis Castillo was back and playing at a high level. The Broncos, in a last gasp effort, went for it on fourth-and-2 on their 28 with about seven minutes remaining. But Castillo blasted through the left side to sack Jay Cutler, forcing the Broncos to surrender the ball. "To be able to feel that I contributed, that I'm part of these guys, it's something special and it feels good," Castillo said. The plan was for Castillo to play 15-or-so plays, but when Jacques Cesaire injured his neck, Castillo was forced to play the game was decided.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LaDainian Tomlinson is producing an avalanche of impressive statistics: Fifth time this season he scored at least three rushing TDs; seventh consecutive multi-TD game tying the NFL record set by Washington's John Riggins; a career-best seven consecutive 100-yard rushing games; eighth overall this year, a team record.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Back on the mark, that's what Philip Rivers was on Sunday after two uneven performances in the last two games. His 136 passing rating is a career-high. "The bottom line is (if) a quarterback can play at a high level you have a better chance of winning," he said. "I was better (Sunday) and the team was better."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Shawne Merriman had two sacks for the second consecutive week since returning from his suspension. That gives him a team-high 12 1/2.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Nate Kaeding nailed two field goals from 34 and 35 yards and he continues his keen kicking from the 30-39-yard range. He is 21-of-22 from that distance, his only misfire coming on a windy day in Buffalo.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Keenan McCardell (calf) is expected to attempt to practice this week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB Michael Turner (hamstring) is expected to practice this week and play in his first game in three weeks. It's still not certain if a healthy Turner would regain his job as a kick-returner, although rookie Antonio Cromartie's fumble in that role might lead to Turner again returning kicks.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Jacques Cesaire (neck) will be evaluated later this week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Malcom Floyd (ankle) might still be a week away from playing.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-ILB Randall Godfrey (calf) could practice this week but is no lock.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-OLB Shaun Phillips briefly left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury. He could miss some practice time this week. Phillips has a career-high 10.5 sacks.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">REPORT CARD VS. BRONCOS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASSING OFFENSE: A - Philip Rivers had a solid day in a season which has seen plenty of them. His 136 passing rating is a career best as he completed 15-of-23 for 279 yards and two TDs. Antonio Gates caught both the scoring passes and he used his considerable experience blocking out rebounders in hauling both of them in. Vincent Jackson continues to show he's eager for a more prominent role in the offense with a sensation catch good for 55 yards. The pass-blocking was on the spot - Rivers was hit hard early in the game then not touched again the rest of the afternoon.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSHING OFFENSE: A - LaDainian Tomlinson is the man again as he collects the single-season touchdown record while rushing for 103 yards and three TDs. Tomlinson is awesome, but don't overlook the maulers up front that are opening the smallest of creases for him to run through. In particular, the left side has been keen: C Nick Hardwick, LG Kris Dielman and LT Marcus McNeill. Even FB Lorenzo Neal got a rare TD on a trick play which the Broncos bit on. But Tomlinson is the standard other NFL running backs must be referenced to.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASS DEFENSE: B-minus - A couple of hiccups here with a pass interference call on Drayton Florence and Marlon McCree and Stephen Cooper getting beat for a score. But the main thing here is the pass rush once again set the tone with four sacks. Shawne Merriman was a force with two sacks and two forced fumbles. He is simply a beast. Luis Castillo, back from an ankle injury, and Stephen Cooper - filling in for the injured Randall Godfrey - also had a sack.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSH DEFENSE: C-plus - The Broncos rushed for 162 yards, the most the Chargers have allowed this season. The defensive line didn't win as many battles as it usually does and credit goes to the Denver blocking schemes. And to be fair, 51 on those yards came on one carry with Tatum Bell found the edge. The Chargers will get that fixed; their run defense is usually among the NFL's best.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">SPECIAL TEAMS: B -Nate Kaeding is true on both of his field-goal attempts and P Mike Scifres has a net of 45.3 yards and two of his three efforts were inside the 20. The coverages were on the mark after slipping of late. Antonio Cromartie fumbled the ball on one kick return, but Schottenheimer seemed will to give him the benefit of the doubt - for now.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">COACHING: A - With the Broncos stacking the line the Chargers do what they seldom do and that is unleash a vertical passing attack. It wasn't bombs away, but there was a 55-yard reception by Jackson, a 34-yarder to Eric Parker and a 26-yarder to Antonio Gates. Cam Cameron has shows his guts by calling a version of the fumble-rooskie on the Denver 4. Schottenheimer has got the team buying into the fact that no one should beat the Chargers at home. So far, the Bolts are 6-0 in San Diego.</p>
     

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