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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Nov 23, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm">USA Today</a>

    <img width="211" height="314" align="left" alt="LaDainian Tomlinson is hugged after his fourth TD by Chargers teammates." title="LaDainian Tomlinson is hugged after his fourth TD by Chargers teammates." src="http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/albums/061119broncos/SMHchargers260208x0037.jpg" />They are on the roll they had longed talked about, winning four straight.
    <p class="inside-copy">They are bolstered by the confidence that comes from being the only NFL team to erase two 17-point road deficits in consecutive weeks, and win.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">They are becoming the talk of the NFL, with their record-breaking running back leading a high-octane offense.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">It's time for the Chargers' close-up and they get to solidify their star status on Sunday, when welcoming the Oakland Raiders into Qualcomm Stadium.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">After surviving the meat of their schedule, four of the Chargers' final games are at home, where they are undefeated at 4-0.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">But the Raiders could provide a stiffer test than one would have imagined. The Chargers worked over Oakland 27-0 in the opener, and seldom has a rival squad looked to be such a mess.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> And while the Raiders are still woeful, they have shown a pulse of late. They've lost their last two games by an identical 17-13 score - to the Chiefs and Broncos - but they led in both of those contests' fourth quarters.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers, though, are more focused on what they have to do rather than their opponent coming to life. Two of their biggest goals collide on Sunday - winning the AFC West title and avoiding a loss at home.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">With a one-game lead over the Denver Broncos, the Chargers have their mitts on their playoff wheel.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"Now we have three divisional games at home," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We control our own destiny. That's all we can ask for is to let it be in our hands."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">And that continues by handing the Raiders their ninth loss in 11 games.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"We need to focus on winning the division," Rivers added. "That's one thing that guarantees you a (playoff) spot. All the other stuff will be a bonus."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">That includes getting a first-round bye and setting up home-field advantage in other possible playoff scenarios.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">But the Chargers are trying not to get ahead of themselves, especially with the Raiders arriving. An upset by their Northern California rivals would sprinkle a little sugar on what has been a bitter Raiders season.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">While leaving a sour taste in the Chargers' mouth.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>SERIES HISTORY:</strong> 95th meeting. The Raiders lead the series 55-37-2, but the Chargers are going for their seventh straight win over Oakland. But before the Chargers' recent streak, the Raiders had won five of six games in San Diego.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Raiders are ranked last in passing yards, total offense, scoring and sacks allowed.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LB Kirk Morrison, the Raiders' leading tackler, was a standout at San Diego State.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-It's the Pagano Bowl, with Raiders DB coach Chuck Pagano competing against his brother, John, the Chargers' assistant LB coach.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Raiders WR coach Fred Biletnikoff worked at Orange Glen High and Palomar College; both schools are in the San Diego area.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Raiders head coach Art Shell was Chargers' Marty Schottenheimer's OL coach in Kansas City from 1995-96.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-It's not as thrilling to talk about as the revved offense, but don't overlook the Chargers' special teams play. It served a big role in Sunday's victory over the Broncos. "The field position was critical," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "We had in excess of 100 yards more field position than them. That was very important to the outcome of the football game." Eight of the Broncos' 10 possessions started at their 20 or inside of it.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Philip Rivers, by completing 73 percent of his passes against the Broncos, raised his completion percentage to 67 percent, third in the league. Rivers has thrown 15 TD passes and five INTs and has a scoring pass in nine of the team's 10 games.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers are the only team in the league with five different players having TD receptions: Vincent Jackson (three), Antonio Gates (four), LaDainian Tomlinson (three), Malcom Floyd (three) and Brandon Manumaleuna (three).</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">While the offense has been getting all the attention, the defense has supplied some big play to jump-start the other side. Sunday, it was Drayton Florence picking off a fourth-quarter Jake Plummer pass. "Sometimes all it takes is one play, especially the way our offense is putting up points," Florence said. "It's somebody different every week on both sides of the ball. That makes it fun. You never know who it's going to be. I'm glad I got my turn."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Schottenheimer won his 194th regular-season game Sunday breaking a tie with Chuck Noll to become the NFL's fifth all-time winningest coach. He was presented a game ball after the victory.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, a former Broncos head coach, told it like it is when addressing his defense leading up to the Broncos' game. "Wade made the point to the defense that this football team here had never lost a game in Denver," Schottenheimer said. "He's right. This is not the team of a year ago or five years ago or ten years ago. It kind of got a roar of approval from the guys."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>BY THE NUMBERS:</strong> 26 - Number of times Schottenheimer has defeated the Raiders in 33 games.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "With this team, you're never out of it. We really feel like that." - RB LaDainian Tomlinson, on the team's ability to consistency overcome deficits.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Vincent Jackson is showing some of the skills that had him drafted in the second round last year. In wondering why Antonio Gates' touchdown numbers are down, don't overlook Jackson and Malcom Floyd - both are 6-foot-5 targets.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Keenan McCardell is nursing a calf injury and could be less than 100 percent on Sunday. That could give Jackson and Floyd even more looks.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-QB Philip Rivers had gone 125 consecutive passes without throwing an interception before his tipped pass in Sunday's first quarter was picked off by Nick Ferguson. It was the first of Rivers' two picks on the game. Rivers entered the game with just three interceptions in 274 attempts. His last interception had come on Oct. 22 when losing to the Chiefs.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LT Marcus McNeill has been a pleasant surprise in his rookie year. And if the high-octane Chargers keep scoring, he could finish in select company. If the Chargers conclude the season leading the league in scoring, they will become the fourth team since 1970 to do so with a rookie tackle starting at least half their games. Among that foursome is the Chargers' Jim Lachey in 1985, on a team that averaged 29.2 points per game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LS David Binn played in his club record 201st Chargers game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB/KR Michael Turner has delivered a spark of late with his returns, but he can't get going in the running game. He had 12 yards on four carries on Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DT Igor Olshansky will appeal his expected $10,000 fine for scuffling with Broncos C Tom Nalen on Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-OLB Shawne Merriman is eligible to return from his four-game suspension after the Raiders game.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>GAME PLAN:</strong> Attack, attack, attack. A preview of the Chargers offense, the top scorers in the NFL? Maybe. But we are talking defense and how it plans to get after Raiders QB Aaron Brooks. Excuse Brooks if he is gun shy in the pocket, as the Chargers sacked him seven times in the season-opening win before he was yanked. The Chargers again will get after Brooks with different players coming from different angles. The Chargers are hopeful Luis Castillo (ankle) and his five sacks are back. But the key here is the Raiders' offensive line is in disarray with LT Robert Gallery and LG Barry Sims out with injuries. That could open up some lanes to the pocket, where Brooks will be expecting company. If the Chargers can get some sacks and maybe force a fumble or two, the offense will do the rest.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>MATCHUPS TO WATCH:</strong> Chargers pass rush vs. a questionable Raiders pass protection - The Chargers' right side of their pass rush could be prime to pick on backup LT Chad Slaughter. Castillo could return, and he could give Slaughter fits. But the key here is OLB Shaun Phillips and his ability to race around the outside when Slaughter is busy with the defensive end. The Raiders must give Slaughter some help, which will compromise the number of receivers they can send out. If the right side is successful early, the Raiders will be forced to play more honest on the side of their line.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chargers pass defense vs. a Raiders receiving corps that features Randy Moss. The Chargers have given up 600 net yards through the air in the past eight quarters. We know Brooks and Moss are hardly Montana to Rice, but there is the potential there for some big plays. It seems rivals have found rookie CB Antonio Cromartie of late and he could be in for another active afternoon on Sunday. Moss has been very ordinary this season, which is a bit scarier as he could break out at any time. Brooks will be challenged to stay upright long enough for the downfield routes, but if he does, Moss and Ronald Curry could make the Chargers pay.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Chargers run defense, led by NT Jamal Williams, vs. a Raiders running game that is missing LaMont Jordan. The Bolts defensive strength is stopping the run and the play of Williams in the middle is a big reason for that. But Williams has been nursing a sore calf, which could cut into his production. The Raiders trot out Justin Fargas as their No. 1 back after the season-ending injury to LaMont Jordan. It doesn't figure the Raiders will be able to run on the Chargers, especially with their injuries issues with their offensive line. It's imperative the Chargers don't allow much on the running downs, which puts Brooks into obvious passing situations and the Chargers can turn loose their impressive rush.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>INJURY IMPACT:</strong> DE Luis Castillo (ankle) sat out again. He could miss his third straight game, although he is still hopeful of working this week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-S Bhawoh Jue (knee) didn't work but he will play Sunday.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-OLB Shaun Phillips (calf) didn't practice but should go later in the week. He's a key in the pass rush, though, and could tire as Sunday's game wears on.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Keenan McCardell (calf) didn't practice and will try to go later in the week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-FS Marlon McCree (calf) didn't practice. McCree said earlier in the week he would go Sunday.</p>

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