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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 20, 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</a>

    That's the trouble with the NFL: you can't enjoy a big win like Sunday.

    The Chargers pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the NFL season when disposing of the undefeated Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

    But this being the NFL, they got to basically celebrate until midnight. Then first thing Monday, they turned their attention to the Kansas City Chiefs.

    There isn't much time to revel in the afterglow of the Colts' conquest. It is a short week - the Chargers play Saturday, and they realize they still probably have to win their final two games (at home against Denver after the Chiefs) to have any chance to reach the playoffs.

    But quarterback Drew Brees did allow a moment or two to reflect on Sunday's big win.

    "We believe we were going to go there and win, keep our playoffs hopes alive," Brees said. "Of course, everybody is talking about the (undefeated) streak being broken and everything else."

    While everyone else was focusing on the Chargers' rival and what they were trying to achieve, the Chargers (9-5) were more concerned about their fate.

    "For us, that was just another team in our path and another game we had to win in order to go on and achieve the goals we set at the beginning of the year," Brees said.

    "That's why it was more of a 'hey, let's go there and take care of business, to kind of keep ourselves in a position to where our playoff hopes are still alive."'

    The Chargers need some help to see the postseason. They trail the Steelers and Jaguars for one of the two spots. And while the Chargers face two tough teams in the Chiefs and Broncos, the two teams ahead them have soft schedules: Jacksonville is at Houston and plays Tennessee; Pittsburgh is at Cleveland and plays Detroit.

    The Chargers have a tough road to hoe. But they made their own bed by starting 0-2, losing three of their first five and suffering a killer loss to the visiting Dolphins two weeks ago.


    -Rookie OLB Shawne Merriman was sensational, recording two sacks and seven tackles; he had gone three games without a sack. "Knowing they had a perfect season, we wanted to be that first team to give them their first loss," said Merriman, the team's sack leader with nine. "We put in extra work all week long to come out and beat (Colts QB Peyton Manning), to make him make decisions he didn't want to make."

    -K Nate Kaeding had a big day, nailing field goals from 36, 20, 48 and 49 yards. His last one was the most critical, as it delivered a 19-17 lead with 6:41 to go. "I really felt coming in I haven't had a big game or big play," said Kaeding, who is 8-of-11 on the year from 40-49 yards. "I was looking to make some big plays and this is by far the highlight of my career so far."

    -After looking decent in the first half (54 yards on 15 carries), RB LaDainian Tomlinson wasn't nearly as effective in the second half because of his sore ribs. He finished with 76 yards on 24 carries, and was on the sidelines late in the fourth quarter. "I knew as the game wore on and taking hits, I knew it was going to be a factor," said Tomlinson, who estimated he was at 80 percent. "So I just tried to go as long as could and as hard as I could."

    Tomlinson didn't think the setback was serious.

    -It's not often a player sets a career-high in his 14th season. But that's what WR Keenan McCardell did when catching his first-quarter, 29-yard touchdown pass. That gave McCardell nine scoring catches on the season, tying him with Antonio Gates for the team lead. McCardell finished with three receptions for 88 yards.

    -With Eric Parker going down and Kassim Osgood on Injured Reserve, rookie Vincent Jackson is contributing more. The second-round pick had a career-best two catches for 41 yards, including a key reception of 21 yards which led to the Chargers' second touchdown.

    "I'm in (receivers coach James Lofton's) pocket the whole game to try and get out there," Jackson said.

    -Coach Marty Schottenheimer, on the year NT Jamal Williams is having: "If he doesn't make the Pro Bowl I've been coaching rugby the last 30 years."



    - RB LaDainian Tomlinson (chest) probably won't practice on Tuesday, the first day of the Chargers' short week of practice. Michael Turner could get more playing time on Saturday.

    - WR Eric Parker (foot) suffered a pretty significant injury, although the Chargers aren't letting on. It would be surprising if Parker goes Sunday. Reche Caldwell would replace him in the starting lineup and Keenan McCardell as a punt returner.

    - LT Roman Oben (foot) will likely miss his seventh straight game.

    - LG Kris Dielman continues to play well. Coach Marty Schottenheimer said after the game that he doesn't know where the team would be without Dielman.

    - S Bhawoh Jue (knee) could go this week after sitting out Sunday.


    PASSING OFFENSE: C - How rare is it to knock off a 13-0 team when the quarterback turns the ball over three times? That's was what Drew Brees did Sunday, but he completed enough big passes at critical times that the Chargers were able to overcome the miscues. He finished 22-of-33 for 255 yards and a touchdown. The pass-blocking was fine as he was sacked but once. Big catches downfield from Eric Parker and Keenan McCardell.

    RUSHING OFFENSE: A - You run for 206 yards against the Colts defense and you get an A. Eighty-three of those yards came on Michael Turner's big carry at the end. A bigger issue is Turner was on the field, and not LaDainian Tomlinson. Tomlinson started well but as the game wore on his bruised chest started to bother him so he took himself out for the final two minutes. Tomlinson ended up with 76 yards on 24 carries. He's now gone three games without a touchdown. The run-blocking was solid, and that includes FB Lorenzo Neal, who sprung Turner for his long touchdown with a devastating lead block.

    PASS DEFENSE: B - The Chargers feel fortunate to have Peyton Manning put it in the air 45 times and to only give up one score. He did throw for 336 yards. But Manning was under constant pressure as he was sacked four times; he had been sacked but 12 times in the previous 13 games. The Chargers made him uncomfortable, which allowed the defensive backs to not have to track the receivers for so long. Drayton Florence and Quentin Jammer - the team's top two corners - finally got their first interceptions of the season.

    RUSH DEFENSE: A - All the Colts could manage was but 24 rushing yards, as the Chargers proved once again why they are the NFL's top run defense. Edgerrin James, the NFL's second-leading rusher, had but 25 yards on 13 carries for a 1.9-yard average. Jamal Williams was the key, anchoring the line's middle. Donnie Edwards led the team with nine tackles, but don't overlook the work of Luis Castillo (five tackles, sack) and Igor Olshansky (four tackles, one sack).

    SPECIAL TEAMS: A - K Nate Kaeding had a career-day, hitting all four of his field goal attempts, giving him a big dose of confidence as he enters these critical two final games. The coverage units might have played as well as they have all year. Not much from the return game, especially with PR Eric Parker leaving early with a foot injury. But the big news here is the improvement of the coverage units.

    COACHING: A - Marty Schottenheimer did a masterful job of having his club put that disappointing loss to the Dolphins behind them and doing something no other NFL team has done all year: beat the Colts. But give credit, too, to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. His defensive scheme caused the Colts problems all day, as he sent various rushers from various angles to pester Manning. The Chargers also played more man coverage than in games past, showing the Colts something that didn't reveal itself much on film.

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