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Inside Slant

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Nov 29, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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

    The Chargers have had it with the East Coast, and that is comforting news to a team weary of crisscrossing the nation.

    Four times the Chargers traveled to the opposite coast this year, and what do they have show for it? A spiffy 3-1 record, with the third win coming Sunday against the Washington Redskins. They previously won on the road against the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. And save a blocked field goal in Philadelphia, the Chargers would have swept their four games.

    The Chargers realize they were fortunate to win on Sunday, when they trailed nearly the entire game only to pull it out on LaDainian Tomlinson's 41-yard run in overtime.

    A loss Sunday would have seriously derailed the team's chances of catching the Denver Broncos, who enjoy a two-game lead in the AFC West, as well as their chase for a wild-card berth.

    "The win is huge," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "I don't ever like to put 'you must win' on any football game. I'm reluctant to do that because if you should fail, then what do you tell the players?"

    But the Chargers didn't lose, and that's why they had plenty of spring in their step Monday. Although some just preferred to put their feet up and kick back after Schottenheimer granted them a Victory Monday and gave them the day off.

    It was a holiday, after a holiday weekend, one that was well-deserved after their fourth win in a row.

    The players can bask - briefly - in the victory and lick their wounds while getting ready for the visiting Raiders on Sunday night.

    "I think (the Redskins game) really said a lot of us," linebacker Steve Foley said. "We were down pretty much the whole game, and (we) fought and never gave up and never slacked off, and that says a lot about our team."

    It's a team that is hitting its stride, knowing its farthest remaining road trip is to Indianapolis on Dec. 19.

    But the Chargers have proven they are road warriors, and they will greet the challenge of knocking off the impressive Colts.

    "If we just continue to focus only on one game at a time and keep notching it up that way, in the end everything will work out for us," quarterback Drew Brees said.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    -Running back LaDainian Tomlinson, with three rushing touchdowns against the Redskins, tied the team's single-season record of 19 set by Chuck Muncie in 1981.

    -Outside linebacker Steve Foley returned to action against Washington after missing three games with an abdominal strain. "I kind of felt like a newborn coming out of the womb and seeing this big, bright light and you don't know how to react to it," Foley said of returning to the field. "It took me a little while to really get into it and to get fluid." Foley, the team's sack leader last year, finished with five tackles and a sack.

    -Outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, a Washington, D.C., native, was quiet in his return. After collecting sacks in four straight games, he didn't have one against the Redskins. Merriman leads the Chargers with seven sacks.

    -Tight end Antonio Gates, who was rebounding from a foot injury, had three drops against Washington before his big catch set up LaDainian Tomlinson's game-winning run. Gates, though, wouldn't use his health as an alibi. "If I don't think I can play, I shouldn't be out there; my foot was fine," said Gates, who finished with three catches for 39 yards, including the key 24-yard reception in overtime. "I'm not big on excuses. There were some plays available for me, and I missed some opportunities to make plays down the field, and I just moved forward."

    -Wide receiver Eric Parker had a game- and season-high seven catches for 98 yards against Washington. Parker also has taken over the punt return duties, where he averaged 6.4 yards on five efforts.

    -Quarterback Drew Brees wasn't apologizing for the Chargers' close win, not after they had lost four games by a combined 12 points. "It wasn't pretty, but we find ourselves on the other side of these (games) quite a few times in the past," said Brees, who had three interceptions against the Redskins.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

    -LT Roman Oben (foot) has now missed three straight games. He could try and test his foot in Wednesday's practice.

    -RB Darren Sproles has been taken off punt returns and will concentrate on kick returns after continually having trouble fielding punts. His role also has lessened on offense.

    -WR Reche Caldwell had been stringing together some solid games, but he was held without a catch against Washington.

    -NT Jamal Williams' contributions seldom show up on the stat sheet, but he had five tackles against the Redskins.

    -RB LaDainian Tomlinson became the sixth player in NFL history to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing barrier in each of his first five seasons.

    REPORT CARD VS. REDSKINS

    PASSING OFFENSE: D - Drew Brees was mediocre, at best, as he struggled with a stout Redskins pass rush early on. He never got in a real rhythm and completed just half of his 44 passes for 215 yards. He also had three interceptions. Plus, Chargers receivers dropped at least six passes, with the usually reliable Antonio Gates having three bounce off his mitts. The Chargers were very fortunate to escape with a win considering their execution in the passing game.

    RUSHING OFFENSE: A - The previous week, LaDainian Tomlinson didn't have to carry much of the load with Brees' solid play. But the roles were reversed on Sunday, with Tomlinson doing the heavy lifting to the tune of three touchdowns and 184 rushing yards. The run blocking was much better than the pass blocking, and the trap play with RG Mike Goff leading the way was working especially well. Tomlinson was, again, sensational.

    PASS DEFENSE: B-minus - There wasn't much of a consistent pass rush, although the Chargers did collect two sacks. Mark Brunell had too much time most of the day, and the fact he only got 194 passing yards on 27 attempts says something about the improved play of the secondary. The tackling after catches, though, often left something to be desired. In particular, Drayton Florence must do a better job of wrapping up pass-catchers.

    RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus - Clinton Portis, for the first time in five career games against the Chargers, didn't rush for 100 yards; he did finish with 91. But the inside linebackers, Randall Godfrey and Donnie Edwards, played well and combined for 16 tackles. Jamal Williams was also a load in the middle and finished with five tackles.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: C - Nate Kaeding missed two of his three field-goal attempts but was true on his last one in the fourth quarter. Coach Marty Schottenheimer was downright giddy that his kickoff coverage teams played better. The Redskins averaged just 14.8 yards on four returns, which is considerably less than what the Chargers had been allowing. The previous week, the Bills collected 239 yards on nine kickoffs, including returns of 45 and 42 yards.

    COACHING: A - Schottenheimer had his charges stay the course, which speaks to the confidence this team has in itself and its coach. Make no mistake, the Chargers did not play that great. But they didn't get discouraged, which is saying something when being on the road and against a team playing, basically, for its season. The staff made some nice halftime adjustments that slowed the Redskins' pass rush in the second half; Tomlinson's run blocking also was better in the second half and overtime.
     

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