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It was the best disappointing season ever…

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    By Curtis Egan
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    <a href="http://assets.espn.go.com/media/apphoto/ac3caa7a-4148-4bc7-b3bb-c32ca994eb6e.jpg"><img class="alignright" title="San Diego Chargers Ladainian Tomlinson, left, and Philip Rivers, right, celebrate after Tomlinsons 14 yard touchdown run during third quarter of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday Dec. 28, 2008 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Chris Park)" src="http://assets.espn.go.com/media/apphoto/ac3caa7a-4148-4bc7-b3bb-c32ca994eb6e.jpg" alt="" width="247" height="202" /></a>The San Diego Chargers entered the season with high expectations, they were touted by many of the media talking heads as one of the teams destined to make the playoffs and run for the Superbowl. However, that road would be a rocky one filled with potholes, detours and frustrations.

    2008, The Chargers year to take it all looked midway through the season as if it would be the year to forget it all. The team would see it's defensive Coordinator, Ted Coterell fired during the bye week, and the fans of the Charger calling for the termination of everyone from the owner to the person who fills the Gatorade jugs, when in week 12 the Chargers were sitting at 4-8. The Chargers rallied in the month of December winning 4 straight games to set an NFL record with 14 straight December wins beating the 1968-1972 Cowboys who had 13 straight December wins. A meaningless stat unless you realize that means that the Chargers for the past 3 years have been playing better with the playoffs looming.

    Yet with all the miscues, the mid season shake up and all the disappointments there were many accomplishments to be proud of along the way. The Chargers became the first team in NFL history to go from a 4-8 record in week 12 and make the playoffs. Not only did they make the playoffs but they won the AFC West Championship, their third consecutive AFC West crown, at 8-8. Not the record many in the organization, media, or fan base expected. But it got the job done. In fact the Chargers now have their lowest win total since 2003 when they finished 4-12.

    Lets do a quick recap of the season;

    <strong>September 7, Carolina at San Diego</strong> Loss
    Jake Delhomme, Carolina Panthers Quarterback came back from an elbow injury in a fashion that the San Diego Chargers won't soon forget, throwing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Dante Rosario as time expired to lift the underdog Panthers to a improbable 26-24 win over the Chargers.

    This was not the start to the season many of us envisioned. Though in the second half of the game the Chargers Offense appeared to be back in the form it was playing in, in 2007. The Defensive performance left a lot of uneasy feelings in the wake of the difficult loss.

    <strong>September 14, San Diego at Denver</strong> Loss
    Knowing his Defense was too tired to stop the Chargers, Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan showed confidence in his Offense and went for the 2-point conversion with 29 seconds left. Jay Cutler hit rookie Eddie Royal over the middle to give the Denver Broncos a 39-38 win over San Diego on Sunday.

    This play would never have been able to happen if it were not for a blown call by NFL referee Ed Hochuli, who whistled a Cutler fumble dead, miscalling it a incomplete forward pass. The Chargers fans and possibly the team were left reeling as the second straight loss in an odd fashion darkened the season.

    <strong>September 22, New York Jets at San Diego</strong> Win
    The Chargers faced a Jets team that now had future Hall of Fame Quarterback Brett Favre in prime time, the San Diego Chargers knew they had to salvage their season, as they were already down in the AFC West Standings to the Denver Broncos. Many fans were very nervous as the Chargers had never won against a team that Farve was the Quarterback for. Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson and the rest of the Chargers raced past the Jets for a 48-29 victory Monday night in a wild game befitting two original AFL teams.

    This game gave many fans the hope that this was just another slow start by the San Diego Chargers and that the team was bouncing back. The media echoed the sentiment, but in the end we were all wrong, sort of-

    <strong>September 28, San Diego at Oakland</strong> Win
    No matter how you stack it, this is the game that the Chargers and their fans love. But a question rode in the back of the minds of many fans as to if this would be the season that the Chargers impressive 9 game win streak over the hated Oakland Raiders would end.

    For three quarters it looked like the Raiders might in fact put an end to the streak. The Raiders stopped LaDainian Tomlinson, then Tomlinson broke loose, the Chargers pressured Raiders Quarterback JaMarcus Russell and the longest winning streak any team has held against the Raiders grew to 10 games.

    A long kickoff return by standout returner Darren Sproles' set up Nate Kaeding's go-ahead 47-yard field goal with 1:51 to play then Tomlinson sealed the 28-18 victory with his second fourth-quarter touchdown that gave him a 100-yard game.

    <strong>October 5, San Diego at Miami</strong> Loss
    San Diego ended the week with a disappointing to 2-3 for the second year in a row. The Chargers also stayed winless in Miami since a memorable overtime playoff victory in January 1982, six losses in Miami.

    The wildacat offense that stunned the New England Patriots the week before was less explosive against the Chargers, but running back Brown took a direct snap 11 times on running plays that netted 49 yards and Miami's second touchdown. Chad Pennington threw for 228 yards, and Brown ran for 125.

    Miami's defense allowed only three third-down conversions and held LaDainian Tomlinson to 35 yards on 12 carries. The Dolphins were nursing only a seven-point lead when they stopped Tomlinson up the middle for no gain on fourth and goal at the 1 in the first minute of the final period.

    The Chargers fans were now up in arms. Cries that LT was too old, AJ Smith, Charger General Manager was allowing his ego to ruin the team, Choad Norv Turner and Defensive Coordinator Ted Cottrell had to go clogged every Charger fan forum.

    <strong>October 12, New England at San Diego</strong> Win
    The Chargers finally beat the Patriots and breathed new life into the season for Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. Rivers threw three touchdown passes and San Diego's defense stuffed quarterback Matt Cassel on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line to highlight a 30-10 win over the Patriots on Sunday night football.

    Though the win did not make up for the AFC Championship loss the Chargers suffered at the hands of the Patriots, it did go a long way to massaging the fans frayed feelings as they moved to 3-3 on the season.

    <strong>October 19, San Diego at Buffalo</strong> Loss
    San Diego (3-4), the loss highlighted the many inconsistencies in performances for the team that reached the AFC Championship Game a year ago. The Chargers had plenty to think about on a cross Atlantic flight to London, where they faced the New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium the following weekend.

    Rivers took responsibility after he committed three turnovers, including two fumbles, which directly resulted in Buffalo scoring 10 points.

    This loss was stunning and had many of the San Diego fans and the media writing the Chargers off. Did the team bye into their own hype, were they less talented than 2007 showed? Such questions were as frequent as the ‘Fire Norv' threads in the fan forums.

    <strong>October 26, San Diego at New Orleans (<em>London</em>) </strong> Loss
    Drew Brees completed 30 of his 41 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowna against his former team as he lead the Saints to a 37-32 win over the Chargers, dropping San Diego to 3-5.
    The Saints held off a late comeback by the Chargers, who came from 37-20 down early in the fourth quarter and were driving for the tying touchdown when linebacker Jonathan Vilma picked off a pass by Philip Rivers with just over a minute to go. Brees took a safety in the final seconds to complete the scoring.

    This was in many ways the final straw for many of the Charger fans and as it would turn out the team ownership. The lack of play on the defensive side of the ball, the vanilla game plans and inability to pressure the opposing quarterbacks lead to the dismissal of Ted Cottrell in the following bye week. Inside Linebackers Coach, Ron Rivera was named the new Defensive Coordinator and this gave the community at large a glimmer of hope, that was sorely needed as the team sat at 3-5 with no signs of recovering from yet another slow start.

    <strong>November 9, Kansas City at San Diego</strong> Win
    The Ron Rivera coordinated defense was burned by a pass interference call and then a touchdown catch by Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez. This set up a 2-point conversion attempt but the Chiefs to steal the victory in much the same way that Carolina and Denver had earlier in the season. However this time the Chargers defense rose to the occasion as strong safety Clinton Hart swatted away Tyler Thigpen's pass intended for Gonzalez with 23 seconds left to cement the Chargers' 20-19 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

    This was the way the Chargers needed to come off the bye, the fans needed to see that the Chargers defense would have some improvement in the post-Cottrell era, though it was not a staggering improvement there was more life on the defensive side of the ball as the Chargers improved to 4-5.

    <strong> November 16, San Diego at Pittsburgh </strong> Loss
    The 11-10 final score was the first such score in 12,837 NFL games. However it was in jeopardy when Troy Polamalu returned an errant lateral 12 yards for an apparent touchdown on the final play. The play was overturned on review it was called an illegal forward pass and the 11-10 final was restored.

    Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played largely a mistake free game while Running back Willie Parker ran for 115 yards and Jeff Reed's third field goal won it with a 32-yarder with 11 seconds remaining.

    The Chargers lead during the game and this proved to be yet another game the team let slip away in the final seconds, renewing the fans ire on the defensive unit as the team dropped to 4-6 on the season.

    <strong>November 23, Indianapolis at San Diego </strong> Loss
    It was the fourth time this season that the Chargers had lost the lead in the final 24 seconds, and the third time an opponent won on the final play of the game.

    Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning kept the winning drive alive with a 14-yard pass to Wide Receiver Marvin Harrison on fourth down play from the Chargers' 48-yard line.

    The Chargers season looked to be in shambles and the thoughts of making the playoffs were quickly fading from the thoughts of many Charger fans and the media in general

    <strong>November 30, Atlanta at San Diego </strong> Loss
    Michael Turner returns to Sand Diego to lead the Falcons in a victory over his old team. The Chargers found themselves three games behind the Denver Broncos with four to play in the less than competitive AFC West.

    San Diego lost for the fifth time in six games. The Chargers gained a season-low 201 yards. A season after reaching the AFC championship game, San Diego could finish no better than .500.

    The Fans at this point were burning Norv Turner in effigy, a three game losing streak had all but sapped nay confidence anyone had in this team ever making the playoffs. After all, it would take a failure of historical proportions for the Chargers to overcome the three game lead the Broncos had in the AFC West.

    <em>Then came December, where the Chargers are historically good, of late...</em>

    <strong>December 4, Oakland at San Diego</strong> Win
    The Chargers beat their hated rivals for the 11th consecutive time in a series dating to the birth of the AFL in 1960.
    The Chargers moved to 5-8 on the season and snapped a three-game losing streak winning for only the second time in seven games. The Chargers were still trailing Denver by 2"½ games in the AFC West.

    Many fans will tell you, if you are only going to win two games a season it had better be against the Raiders. The Chargers won the game in convincing fashion with a final score of 34-7.

    <strong>December 14, San Diego at Kansas City</strong> Win
    In the fourth quarter after their onside kick bounced off Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe's chest and Kassim Osgood recovered for San Diego, Rivers needed only four plays Sunday to complete one of the most stirring comebacks of the season.

    With 1:13 left, Rivers hit Malcom Floyd with a 4-yard TD pass. Then his 10-yarder to Vincent Jackson with 36 seconds to go lifted the Chargers to a 22-21 victory against the stunned Chiefs, who led 21-3 in the third quarter.

    This was the second straight 1 point victory over the reeling Chiefs, it also gave the Chargers a faint glimmer of hope at winning the west to make the playoffs.

    <strong>December 14, San Diego at Tampa Bay</strong> Win
    Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers did everything they could to save their season. Rivers, the NFL's highest-rated passer threw for 287 yards and four touchdowns against Tampa Bay, helping the Chargers beat the Buccaneers 41-24 to keep their playoff hopes alive.

    After their third straight win in what amounted to elimination games for a team that began the season with expectations of reaching the Super Bowl, San Diego 7-8 got needed help when Buffalo beat Denver 30-23.

    This set up a final game of the season which would be for the AFC West crown and the chance to enter the Superbowl.

    <strong>December 28, Denver at San Diego</strong> Win
    The AFC West belongs to LaDainian Tomlinson, Philip Rivers and the rest of the San Diego Chargers as they rise above all the odds to win the West in an improbable fashion at 8-8.

    The Chargers won their third straight division title, becoming the first team to go from 4-8 to the playoffs by routing the Denver Broncos 52-21. The Chargers battled back, and though they did not run a lot of blitzes or pressure Denver Quarterback and cry baby Jay Cutler, they were able to maintain coverage well enough to limit the Denver drives and control the ball.

    The offensive unit looked to be hitting on all cylinders as it gears up to face the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs.

    <strong>Some Noteworthy notes from the season.</strong>

    The Chargers finished second only to New Orleans with 439 points scored. Second in points per game as well.

    The Chargers are tied for second with 51 TDs Only New Orleans had more.

    Philip Rivers tied New Orleans Quarterback Drew Brees with 34 touchdowns to share the league lead.

    Philip Rivers lead the league in passer ratings with an impressive 105.5. he was able to do this while only having 478 attempted passes on the season (12th over all).

    The rating of 105.5 also ranks as the highest passer rating for the season of any Charger Quarterback ever. The Previous record was held by Drew Brees who had a rating of 104.8 in 2004.

    Rivers had a passer rating of greater than 100 in 10 of his 16 games this season; Carolina 125.1, Denver 120.4, New York Jets 130.0, New England 141.9, Buffalo 103.8, New Orleans 104.3, Indianapolis 126.8, Oakland 120.1, Tampa Bay 136.7, Denver 141.0.

    Though Rivers has 2 games this season with a rating of 140 or higher, he still has not yet cracked the 3 highest passer ratings per game for the Chargers; 157.1 Dan Fouts at Cleveland, Sept. 7, 1981, 153.1 Drew Brees vs. Oakland, Oct. 31, 2004, 149.4 Dan Fouts vs. Cleveland, Dec. 4, 1977.

    Philip Rivers broke Chargers Hall of Fame Quarterback Dan Fouts' 1981 team record by throwing for 34 touchdowns. Fouts' record had been 33.

    LT had his 8th 1000 yard rushing season.

    LT took over sole possession of second place for total rushing touchdowns with 11 on the season. This moved him past Marcus Allen.

    LT also extended his streak of consecutive seasons with at least 10 rushing touchdowns to 8.

    Vincent Jackson ended the season with 59 receptions for 1098 yards. The first Charger Receiver to break 1000 since 2001 when Curtis Conway had 1125.

    Jackson also had an impressive 18.6 yard average per reception.

    The Chargers were third in yards per play.

    The Chargers set an NFL record with 14 straight December wins beating the 1968-1972 Cowboys who had 13 straight December wins.

    The Chargers became the first team in NFL history to go from a 4-8 record in week 12 and make the playoffs.

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