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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Dec 5, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    <img width="301" height="200" alt="LaDainian Tomlinson and Nick Hardwick celebrate a first-quarter touchdown against the Buffalo Bills." title="LaDainian Tomlinson and Nick Hardwick celebrate a first-quarter touchdown against the Buffalo Bills." src="http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/albums/061203bills/KC_Bills260213x1256.jpg" />
    <div class="inside-copy">In the past, when teams mounted a charge against the Chargers, the results weren't always pretty. But after the Bills quickly sliced a 17-0 deficit into a 17-14 deficit to start the third quarter Sunday, the Chargers didn't blink.</div>
    <p class="inside-copy">"It got us frustrated a little bit," guard Mike Goff said. "But the difference between this year's team and last year's team is we got over that frustration. We said, 'OK, what's done is done, and there is still a ton of football left, and we are still up.'"</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers answered with their longest scoring drive of the season, holding the ball 8 minutes, 6 seconds on a series that didn't end until LaDainian Tomlinson found the end zone for the second time in the game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The drive showed off the physical nature of the Chargers offense.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"We always think that in the course of a ballgame, for the offense, there's going to be a time when we have to put a drive together," Tomlinson said. "Sometimes, we have to be able to close it out, and that's what we always said. That eight-minute drive, I think, says something about this team, and it continues to say something about the way we played all year. It's absolutely what was needed at that time."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Center Nick Hardwick, who had a good day blocking, said that put a bow on the team's last regular-season road game not on the West Coast.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"That wrapped it up right there," Hardwick said. "That is what we needed to do, just pound it at them and wear them down."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">It's an offensive badge the Chargers will carry into a journey they hope will go deep into the playoffs.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"That's who we are, and we know that," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We just have to make sure we have it with a little more consistency as we hit this home stretch."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-CB Quentin Jammer got his third interception in as many games, after collecting just one in each of the past two seasons. "I just keep grinding, man," Jammer said. "I'm just trying to do what everybody else is trying to do, and that is to go to the Pro Bowl."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Seattle RB Shaun Alexander's one-year-old NFL record of 28 touchdowns could be history soon. With two scores Sunday, RB LaDainian Tomlinson is just two shy of tying the mark. "The record, I don't really like to talk about it because who knows that's going to happen," Tomlinson said, politely. "I'm within two, but there's still four (games) to go, and anything can happen. Tomlinson's 178 rushing yards give him six consecutive games of surpassing 100. It was Tomlinson's second-highest total of the year. He abused S Ko Simpson on a 51-yard touchdown run. "We talk on the sideline, what do you do if you're a safety back there and it's one-on-one," QB Philip Rivers said. "You can't be right; LT is unbelievable."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-TE Antonio Gates has been more productive of late. He had game highs in receptions (seven) and receiving yards (90) Sunday, and he added an 11-yard scoring catch. After catching two passes against the Browns on Nov. 5, Gates has had at least five receptions in each game since. Gates said people think he's having a down year because they put him up against wide receivers. "They compare me to playmakers," Gates said. "They say 'Chad Johnson's got 11 touchdown, you got six.' It's kind of cool that they take me out of that box and compare me to other playmakers in the league. I want to be known as one of the playmakers and not a tight end. I set my standards high."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-K Nate Kaeding was true on a 42-yard field goal but later missed from 36 yards. Mike Scifres had a line-drive punt that was short and gave the Bills a short field to work with in getting their first touchdown. Scifres also booted his first touchback in 38 attempts. Needless to say, the Chargers weren't getting their kicks in the blustery conditions. "It's like punting into a wall," Scifres said. "When the wind is like that, it is crazy. For the kickers to get out of here without a big mistake is saying a lot." The wind was 11 mph at kickoff, but it swirled and often changed direction.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The players had a Victory Monday after the big win, as coach Marty Schottenheimer gave his players the day off.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Luis Castillo (ankle) is optimistic, but he might not try to practice until Friday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Keenan McCardell (calf) aggravated his injury in the game Sunday, and that could derail him this week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-FS Marlon McCree (calf) will try to test his injury Wednesday, but there is no guarantee.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB LaDainian Tomlinson has now rushed for 1,200 yards in each of his first six seasons. Eric Dickerson is the only other back to accomplish that feat.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB Michael Turner (hamstring) will try to practice Wednesday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-OLB Shaun Phillips (elbow) got dinged, but he didn't think it was serious.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">REPORT CARD VS. BILLS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASSING OFFENSE: C - Philip Rivers was decent in completing 17 of 29 for 160 yards and a touchdown. He did lose a fumble without getting hit in the third quarter, which fueled the Bills' rally. The conditions weren't ripe for passing, so the Chargers were content staying close to the ground. Pass protection was pretty good, although Rivers did get sacked three times. Gates is getting more involved as the season progresses.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSHING OFFENSE: A - LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 178 yards and two scores as he continues his impressive season. The run blocking was sensational, especially on the left side, as Tomlinson continued to run behind LT Marcus McNeill and LG Kris Dielman. Can't say enough, too, about the blocking of FB Lorenzo Neal, as he sprung Tomlinson on his 51-yard touchdown run.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASS DEFENSE: B - Quentin Jammer got an interception for the third consecutive game and has four on the season, which ties his career high. Drayton Florence had two passes clank off his hands; he very easily could have had two picks. The safeties were OK; the pass rush was better than that. Shawne Merriman was a force in getting two sacks and a forced fumble. Shaun Phillips had another sack. San Diego's rush is among the NFL's best.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSH DEFENSE: A - The Bills never could get any rhythm running the ball, as Jamal Williams was blowing up the front line. That allowed the linebackers - Williams had six tackles as well - to swoop in and have big games. Donnie Edwards had a season-high 18 tackles. The Bills managed just 63 yards rushing as the run defense showed its old swagger and demonstrated that it could be getting good again down the stretch.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">SPECIAL TEAMS: D - The coverages continue to be a problem, which is driving coach Marty Schottenheimer crazy. Two big returns - one off a kick, one off a punt - allowed the Bills to stick around in this one. Nate Kaeding had his first field-goal attempts since Nov. 5; he made one of the two in windy conditions. But again, on a team that is so efficient in every other area, the coverage teams stand out as an area in need of fixing.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">COACHING: A - Schottenheimer decided on a cold, windy day, why not just give the ball to Tomlinson? Made sense, and the Chargers made the Bills pay as they collected their 10th win. Wade Phillips has Merriman back, and that's almost unfair: the combination of Phillips' smarts and Merriman's strength. Schottenheimer's team didn't overlook the Bills on the road in a sandwich game between to AFC West rivals.</p>
     

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