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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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

    Do the Chargers have one more streak-busting game in their bag of tricks?

    They head to Kansas City Saturday for an oh-so-critical AFC West game with the Chiefs. The 9-5 Chargers, trying desperately to keep their playoff hopes alive, must conquer their third significant streak of the season if wanting to do just that.

    In October, the Chargers brushed aside the world champion New England Patriots' 21-game home winning streak, prevailing 41-17.

    Last Sunday, they derailed the Indianapolis Colts' 13-game winning streak, which also put to rest their 12-game home winning streak.

    Now the Chiefs are on the platter, and they boast of a 17-game winning streak in December games at rowdy Arrowhead Stadium.

    "Kansas City is a tough place to play in and it has nothing to do with the weather," said Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer, a former Chiefs coach. "It's the fans.

    "That place is crazy and it's a good crazy if you're Kansas City."

    But one would have to be nuts not to like the Chargers' chances, although they are a slight underdog. They conquered not only the undefeated Colts last week, but that noise which ricochets around the RCA Dome as well. Sure, they had two false starts, but that's almost acceptable in the din of the RCA Dome.

    So they head to Arrowhead not only with the confidence of winning six of their past seven, but knowing they can go into any hostile environment - see New England, see Washington, see Indianapolis - and come out with a win.

    Really, if the Chargers don't make the playoffs, it will be because of their troubles at home instead of their road woes. They have a very mediocre 4-3 mark at Qualcomm Stadium, this after going 7-1 there last year on their way to their first AFC West title since 1994.

    To run their current winning streak to two, the Chargers' top-ranked defense must do what the entire team has been doing - break a streak. Chiefs running back Larry Johnson has rushed for 100 yards in seven straight games.

    But the Chiefs will be trying to end their own streak of losing two straight. That's a streak the Chargers would prefer to keep intact. To do so, they have to take care of their business and hope they get help over the final two weekends to sneak into the playoffs despite being among the AFC tops teams.

    "All we can do is keep winning, that alone is all we can do," said LaDainian Tomlinson. "Yeah, we're depending on other teams. But we got to keep winning, starting with this week which is going to be tough."

    SERIES HISTORY: 92nd meeting. The Chiefs lead the series, 47-43-1, but have won the past three meetings. The Chargers are trying to win in Kansas City for consecutive times for the first time since 1988-89, where they have lost seven of their last eight. The Chiefs are 5-4 against the Chargers under coach Dick Vermeil. The first game between these two was the first games ever in their respective franchises. But at the time, the Chargers were playing in Los Angeles and the Chiefs were playing as the Dallas Texans.


    -Give Raider-hater Marty Schottenheimer a skull. Hand him an eye-patch. Give a flask of J.D, and a future ticket for the Black Hole. Forget that 25-7 record he has against the Raiders. He's rooting for the Raiders come this weekend.

    "How crazy is that?" RB LaDainian Tomlinson said.

    The Chargers' quest to secure a playoff spot isn't easy. The surest way is they snap the Chiefs' 17-game December home winning streak, then beat the visiting Denver Broncos in the regular-season finale. Plus, the Pittsburgh Steelers and/or the Jacksonville Jaguars split their final two games.

    Another avenue would be the Chargers sweeping their final two, and the Broncos stumbling at home Saturday afternoon against the Oakland Raiders. Which makes the Chargers fans of the Black Hole's heroes.

    Tomlinson agreed, but he's not putting skulls on his shoulder pads Saturday.

    "I won't wear those, but I will definitely be pulling for the Raiders," Tomlinson said.

    Yep, LaDainian Tomlinson, a full-fledged Raider Nation member.

    "Nah, I'm not a Raiders fan, but I am pulling for the Raiders," he said.

    And Schottenheimer?

    "Am I rooting for the Raiders?" he said. "I really haven't thought about it. I know this: we better concern ourselves with us and with whatever happens from there, I will be prepared to live with."

    -The six Chargers named to the Pro Bowl are the most by the team since after the 1982 season. The most players ever chosen from one season is eight following the 1980 season.

    The Chargers headed to Hawaii are Tomlinson, TE Antonio Gates, Hanik Milligan (special teams), RB Lorenzo Neal, rookie OLB Shawne Merriman and NT Jamal Williams.

    Williams often gets overlooked - but not this year - despite anchoring the league's top run defense. "If Jamal Williams doesn't get selected to the Pro Bowl I've been coaching rugby the past 30 years," Schottenheimer said earlier this week.

    -Schottenheimer told his wife Pat when the Chargers beat the Colts on Sunday - this was before the game - that he wouldn't call her first as is his custom. Instead, he was put in contact with ex-Dolphins coach Don Shula through Jim Steeg, a Chargers executive (former NFL Super Bowl guru) and an ex-Dolphin executive. "Don was very laudatory to what Tony (Dungy) and the Colts had done, but knowing Don the way I do, he was thinking, "yeah!" Schottenheimer said of the call.

    -The team put LT Roman Oben (foot) on Injured Reserve and waived S Scott McGarrahan. They signed WR Drew Haddad and S Jerrell Pippens.

    -Some speculate former Chargers head coach Al Saunders will become the Chiefs' next head coach if Dick Vermeil decides to step aside. He's currently the Chiefs' offensive coordinator.

    -Crucify ex-GM Bobby Beathard, if you will, for picking QB Ryan Leaf with the second overall pick in 1998. But give Beathard credit for snagging Chiefs QB Trent Green, an ex-Charger, with the 222nd selection in 1993.

    -Chargers assistant secondary coach Albert Lewis played in 150 games with the Chiefs, recording 38 interceptions.

    -Chargers offensive line coach Carl Mauck held the same position with the Chiefs from 1986-88.

    -Hall of Fame wide receiver Charlie Joiner, a former Charger, is the Chiefs' receivers coach.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 3. Consecutive games LaDainian Tomlinson has gone without a touchdown, his longest stretch since he went four straight to end his rookie year of 2001.

    QUOTE TO NOTE "This time of year it doesn't even matter. Everybody's got little nicks and I have to deal with it." - RB LaDainian Tomlinson, on his nagging ribs injury.


    The Chargers are concerned about their health at safety going into the game. Bhawoh Jue (knee) didn't play last week, but has worked this week. Still, his knee could become fatigued which could slow him Saturday. Plus, SS Terrence Kiel (ankle) has already been declared out for this week. Clinton Hart has done well as a backup, but he can't play both spots if injuries arise. The Chargers will turn to veteran Jerry Wilson, a starter before losing his job to Jue in camp. But Wilson has seldom seen the field this year and how he holds up is worth watching if pressed into extensive action.


    -K Nate Kaeding got a big boost with a career-best four field goals in the win over Indy. Two of his efforts were from at least 46 yards.

    -OLB Shawne Merriman, after going three games without a sack, had two against the Colts. He has a good shot of being named the AFC defensive rookie of the year with a strong finish. He already leads the Chargers with nine sacks.

    -WR Vincent Jackson is going to see more action with injuries to Eric Parker and Kassim Osgood. The rookie had two catches for 41 yards, including a 21-yarder, last Sunday.

    -DE Igor Olshansky is first and foremost a run-stuffer. But with teams passing on early downs against the Chargers' tough run defense, he's been finding his way in the backfield. He had another sack Sunday, giving him a career-high three on the year.

    -LG Kris Dielman drew some high praise from coach Marty Schottenheimer when the coach said he doesn't know where the team would be minus Dielman's contributions. Dielman moved into a starting role in Week 3, before the team traded Toniu Fonoti. Dielman has played very well.

    -CB Quentin Jammer is coming off one the better games of his mediocre career. He got an interception off Peyton Manning, Jammer's first pick in over a year; he also had a team-high five passes defensed and seven tackles. Jammer needs to build on that performance this week.

    GAME PLAN: Go to RB LaDainian Tomlinson early, then pass, pass, pass. The weak link of the Chiefs' defense is the back end, although they have big-time tackling issues throughout the unit. But if Tomlinson can establish the run early, let QB Drew Brees and Co., test that secondary. Brees has a good history at Arrowhead. Not only is he the first Chargers quarterback to win there since Stan Humphries in 1996, but he has completed 72 of 110 (.655) for 822 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. In last year's win, he went for a career-high 378 yards and two touchdowns with no picks, completing nearly 76 percent of his passes.


    TE Antonio Gates vs. the Chiefs' No. 31-ranked pass defense. Gates always seems to do well against the Chiefs, proving Tony Gonzalez and others he is a top-notch tight end as well. In three games against the Chiefs, Gates nearly seven catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns. He had three touchdown catches in the earlier win this year over the Chiefs. The Chiefs have to figure out how to slow him down, and if that means assigning extra defenders, that leaves them vulnerable for a big run by Tomlinson, or something big on the outside.

    Chargers pass blocking vs. Chiefs pass rush, which has 27 sacks. The Chargers got somewhat lucky in Indy in that one Brees interception was because he was being pressured and another turnover came when he was sacked and fumbled the ball. Chargers LT Leander Jordan must not only battle Jared Allen (a team-high 10 sacks) but the noise at Arrowhead. Allen will take advantage of that first step if Jordan has to peek to see the ball being snapped. Look for the Chargers to assign blocking tight end Justin Peelle on Jordan's side for additional help.

    The Chargers' kick coverage teams vs. the Chiefs' return game led by Dante Hall. The Chargers got smoked in this department last year in Kansas City when Hall averaged nearly 39 yards on six kickoffs, which included a 96-yard touchdown. The Chargers have made strides here of late, but are still ranked No. 24 in the NFL. The Chiefs are ranked No. 9 in returns; Hall is averaging 24 yards a return.

    INJURY IMPACT: RB LaDainian Tomlinson (ribs) was able to practice Wednesday and is a go for this week. But backup Michael Turner will likely see some work.

    S Bhawoh Jue (knee) practiced, and he should go on Saturday.

    SS Terrence Kiel (ankle) is out for Saturday. He'll likely be replaced by Clinton Hart if Jue is fit.

    WR Eric Parker (foot) isn't expected to play this week. Reche Caldwell would replace him in the offense, with Keenan McCardell taking over his punt-return duties.

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