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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Nov 21, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: USA Today

    <img width="299" height="199" alt="San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson (21) slips by Denver Broncos safety Nick Ferguson on a 3-yard touchdown run during the third quarter of a NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006, in Denver. It was Tomlinson's 100th NFL touchdown." title="San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson (21) slips by Denver Broncos safety Nick Ferguson on a 3-yard touchdown run during the third quarter of a NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006, in Denver. It was Tomlinson's 100th NFL touchdown." src="http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061120/capt.99bfedf56bd741f7bafc9e98054b48e0.chargers_broncos_football_dxs108.jpg" />
    <div class="inside-copy">The Chargers return home on Sunday, boosted by two stunning road performances to sit atop the AFC West.</div>
    <p class="inside-copy">Awaiting them are their old rivals, the Raiders, who will be looking to avoid their seventh consecutive loss to the Chargers.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers have suddenly become the chic NFL team, what with battling from a 24-7 deficit on Sunday to defeat the Broncos, 35-24. That came on the heels of erasing a 28-7 lead in storming back to beat the Bengals, 49-42.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> It's a little early to talk of teams having "it" - but that hasn't stopped some.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">There's a feeling among the locker room that this team could produce something special.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">That confidence comes from knowing there is talent littered across the roster. It comes with having a veteran coaching staff that doesn't get snookered much by others.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Then there are those two wins in the last two weeks - all serving as nice background music to the incredible feats of LaDainian Tomlinson.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The NFL's touchdown leader is sidestepping records and milestones with ease.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"I'm going along for the ride," Tomlinson said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Even team president Dean Spanos is cautiously excited about what might ultimately develop. Especially after that stunner in Denver.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"Obviously we have not been successful here for so long and coming in and playing for first place and winning like this, and being down," he said. "I really think it shows the heart of this team. And I think a lot of good things are to come."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Philip Rivers, at 24, brushed off two picks, kept his head high and kept battling. Everyone else did the same and the result was the same: another unlikely road triumph.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"Nobody panicked," Rivers said. "And I put it behind me and said (to myself), 'I just have to keep playing.'"</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"That a credit to our team, our maturity. We are a special bunch."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">A bunch that is in and first place and primed to possibly do special things.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"We feel like we can score at any time," Tomlinson said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB LaDainian Tomlinson bumped Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith from the top of record book when he sliced over from the left side for his 100th touchdown of his impressive career, the second of four on the day. Tomlinson reached the century mark in 89 games, four fewer than what it took Brown and Smith to reach the milestone.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Tomlinson accepted well-wishes from his offensive linemen before trotting off with the ball tucked under his arm.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">He has scored 19 touchdowns in six weeks and is now just six shy of Seattle's Shaun Alexander's single-season record of 28.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Can Alexander's mark be reached?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"I don't know," said Tomlinson, who rushed for 105 yards and three scores; had three catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. "We got six more games left, but obviously that is a lot of touchdowns."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-CB Quentin Jammer said the defense feeds off the offense when things look bad. "With our offense playing like they are, it feels like we can do anything."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-QB Philip Rivers doesn't mince words about his description of Tomlinson: "I think he is the best there is," he said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Eric Parker put aside his sore neck and had a solid game in Denver. He had a punt return for 18 yards. And among his four catches for 42 yards, were two key third-down receptions to keep the Chargers' first scoring drive alive.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-TE Antonio Gates said the Chargers success in Denver - and other places - isn't surprising. "This is a different team, man, a different attitude," he said. And the most important part of all of this is we play for each other."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYER NOTES</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-OLB Shaun Phillips (calf) could ease into the practice week.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Luis Castillo (ankle) was going to try and work this week after missing the past two games, but he is still in a walking boot.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-FS Marlon McCree (calf) will have to be monitored this week with his injury.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LB Shawne Merriman will sit out Sunday, the final game of his four-game suspension for steroid use.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-NT Jamal Williams has some ankle issues and will have an MRI.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Keenan McCardell has a strained calf.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Jacques Cesaire has a sprained ankle.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LT Marcus McNeill, a rookie, continues to draw good marks for his play.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">REPORT CARD VS. BRONCOS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASSING OFFENSE: B - OK, Philip Rivers had a couple of picks. But once again he doesn't fret when falling behind early, a mark of someone playing beyond his years and experience. LaDainian Tomlinson's 51-yard TD catch flipped the momentum. Front line does a good job protecting Rivers allowing a sack and one big hit. Funny they don't call Antonio Gates number early - no receptions - but he's a big target in second half.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSHING OFFENSE: A - Front line shines here, helping to gain 125 yards on the ground. Tomlinson and his impressive moves account for some of that, but he is being given a seam to exploit with the blocking. Running game has turned left, behind LT Marcus McNeill and LG Kris Dielman - both are playing well.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PASS DEFENSE: C -Drayton Florence's INT is late fuel on the second-half rally. S Marlon McCree sucks it up and plays on an ailing calf. McCree and Terrence Kiel were sloppy at times with their tackling. Teams are starting to find rookie Antonio Cromartie.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUSH DEFENSE: B - Broncos gather 158 here, a bad day for the unit but once which was playing with numerous injuries. Damien Nash's 26-yard pickup left a mark and Mike Bell averaged 4.5 yards. The Denver OL was pretty good, as usual.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">SPECIAL TEAMS: B - Michael Turner gives the return game some juice with 44-yard return. K Nate Kaeding sets a career-high with three touchbacks, and a nice touch on another after a penalty. Broncos return game brags of 53-yard return by Cecil Sapp.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">COACHING: A - Marty Schottenheimer takes a blowtorch to his and the Chargers longtime Denver memories - mostly bad. He lets loose the NFL's most explosive offense and some defensive adjustments by Wade Phillips produce another comeback. The Chargers are talent, but many a talented team hasn't shown the resiliency of this squad. Some of that credit has to go to the coaches.</p>
     

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