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Just Win 10 in a row baby - Chargers are a Perfect 10

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Sep 29, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Perfect 10

    Through 30 minutes of football in Oakland Sunday, the Chargers had punted four times, given up a safety, been intercepted once and had a field goal blocked.

    But thanks to a valiant effort by their defense, the Bolts found themselves down just two scores, and that was plenty close enough for Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson and company.

    After trailing 15-0 at halftime, the Chargers outscored the Raiders 25-3 in the fourth quarter and escaped from Oakland with a 28-18 victory, the Bolts’ tenth-consecutive win over their arch rivals.

    “I thought the key to the game was the way our defense played in the first half,” Head Coach Norv Turner said. “I’ve been in situations where it took that long to get going on offense and it was an insurmountable lead. Our guys showed great composure, great patience and were able to get the job done.”

    The Chargers gained just 85 yards in the first half, 51 of which came on their final drive of the second quarter. They didn’t pick up a first down until there was 5:10 remaining in the second quarter.

    But on the flip side, the Bolts’ defense forced Oakland to settle for a field goal after driving to the San Diego four yard line on their opening drive, sacked JaMarcus Russell three times in the first two quarters, delivered three, three-and-outs in the opening half and kept things within reach.

    “We just kept fighting,” Rivers said. “It wasn’t our prettiest offensive day but we kept fighting and our defense kept giving us a chance.”

    After the field goal on their opening drive, the Raiders made it a 5-0 game midway through the first quarter when a Bolts miscue led to a safety. Oakland safety Gibril Wilson shot into the Bolts’ backfield and disrupted the timing on a Rivers handoff to Tomlinson. Rivers fell on the loose ball in the end zone but was tackled for a safety.

    Early in the second quarter, Russell hit tight end Zach Miller in stride down the middle of the field and Miller raced 63 yards for a touchdown that put Oakland up 12-0. It was the only big play the Chargers’ defense gave up Sunday.

    Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson intercepted Rivers on the Bolts ensuing drive, and Oakland capitalized as Janikowski hit a 28-yard field goal for a 15-0 lead. The chip shot came after an unusual series of events.

    Janikowski hit a 31-yard try earlier in the drive, but a penalty on the Chargers gave Oakland a fresh set of downs. When Quentin Jammer made a touchdown-saving tackle on a Russell scramble three plays later, the Raiders opted to try for the touchdown on fourth down. Michael Bush’s run was successful, but a holding penalty nullified the touchdown and Oakland trotted Janikowski back out for the short try.

    On the final play of the half, Janikowski attempted a 76-yard field goal, which would have broken the current NFL record by 13 yards had it been successful. His kick fell well short and Oakland took a 15-0 lead into the locker room.

    Then the Chargers took over. They opened the second half with a 75-yard drive that culminated with a 28-yard field goal that made it a 15-3 contest.

    Late in the third quarter, the Chargers got a much-needed defensive stop when Shaun Phillips tipped a Russell pass and linebacker Tim Dobbins came down with the ball for his first-career interception. The Bolts capitalized as Rivers led the offense down the field and threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates. The third Rivers-Gates scoring connection of the season closed the gap to 15-10.

    “Our defense kept making plays and giving us a chance,” said Gates, who led the Chargers with five catches for 58 yards on the day. “You can’t ask for more.”

    The Bolts took their first lead of the day early in the third quarter when linebacker Marques Harris raced past Oakland left tackle Kwame Harris, sacked Russell and forced him to fumble. Harris recorded the hat trick on the play and emerged from the pile with the football, giving the Bolts the ball at the Oakland 15 yard line.

    It took just one play for Tomlinson to find the end zone, and Darren Sproles’ slippery moves on the ensuing two-point try put the Bolts up 18-15.

    Oakland drove the length of the field on their ensuing drive, but the Bolts forced them to settle for a game-tying field goal with 2:52 remaining, plenty of time for the Chargers to answer.

    Sproles wasted no time doing so. He returned the ensuing kickoff 67 yards to set up a 47-yard field goal by Kaeding, which made it a 21-18 game with 1:55 left.

    “I don’t know what to say about Sproles,” safety Clinton Hart said. “Every week he does something to give us a spark.”

    Still, the Raiders had all three timeouts remaining, so the contest was far from over. The Chargers’ defense came through again as they got off the field in five plays and gave the ball back to their offense.

    That set the stage for Tomlinson to once again wreak havoc on the Silver & Black. LT bounced a run outside for a 41-yard touchdown to make it a 28-18 game and put the nail in the coffin.

    Tomlinson enjoyed his 46th career 100-yard performance, his ninth against the Raiders, with 106 yards on the day. Rivers, who entered the day as the NFL’s highest-rated passer, finished the day 14-of-25 for 180 yards and a touchdown to go with the two interceptions.

    The Chargers’ 2-2 start has certainly proven that nothing comes easy, but after holding on the last two week, Turner likes the guts his team is showing.

    “This league is about who is going to fight, scratch and claw the hardest and who is going to get better,” Turner said. “We’re getting better on defense. Individuals are getting better and we’re playing better collectively. We came up and made plays when we had to.”


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