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NY Times Article: Chargers' opportunity to Derail Chiefs

Discussion in 'American Football' started by nickelbolt, Oct 21, 2006.

  1. nickelbolt

    nickelbolt Fuggedaboutit

    Aug 20, 2006
    Visiting Chargers Have Opportunity to Derail Chiefs

    Published: October 22, 2006

    L. T. versus L. J.

    Sounds like a marquee matchup, doesn’t it?

    But while San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson is on a pace for a 1,300-yard rushing season, with 407 yards through five games, Kansas City’s Larry Johnson has fallen off the form that had him rush for 1,750 yards — with only nine starts — last season and sparked talk of his going for 2,000 yards this season.

    After running for 295 yards in the Chiefs’ first three games, Johnson has been all but missing in action in the last two. He ran for 36 yards in a 23-20 victory at Arizona two weeks ago, and had 26 on 15 carries in last week’s 45-7 loss at Pittsburgh.

    And today, when the Chargers (4-1) visit the Chiefs (2-3), Johnson will be facing the N.F.L.’s top defense — San Diego is giving up only 218.4 yards a game — and one of its hardest hitters in linebacker Shawne Merriman. The Chargers are also ranked second in pass defense at 146.8 yards a game and second with 21 sacks, meaning Kansas City must establish a running game to keep the Chargers honest.

    But then again, San Diego took the league’s No. 1 run defense to Arrowhead last December, and Johnson shredded it for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns to help the Chiefs win, 20-7, and knock the Chargers out of playoff contention.

    “What we did last season on them, it does give us confidence,” Johnson said. “It’s the same guys from last year, so we know we can reproduce the same result.”

    This time, Johnson will not have tackles John Welbourn and Willie Roaf — both retired — to run between. The former Pro Bowl fullback Tony Richardson is also gone, lost to free agency, and quarterback Trent Green has not played since sustaining a concussion in the opener.

    The Chiefs have made some stopgap measures at fullback, shifting the reserve tight end Kris Wilson to the position and signing the free-agent fullback Greg Hanoian to a two-year deal.

    Still, Johnson said he was prepared to carry the load.

    “The guys we’ve got right now, they’re brand new,” Johnson said. “One of them is still learning the system and what to do. So as of right now, the way my thinking is, we don’t need one. Even when Tony Richardson was here, we didn’t use him as much as we could have, but the offense still worked.”

    Right now, though, the Chargers’ offense is working better.

    Philip Rivers, the third-year pro in his first year as a starter, has thrown for 1,064 yards and 7 touchdowns, with only 2 interceptions. His 100.6 passer rating leads the American Football Conference and is second in the N.F.L. to the 104.8 rating for Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb.

    But it could be as tough for the Chiefs to keep their home fans engaged if they struggle against the Chargers.

    “This is really important for us,” cornerback Patrick Surtain said. “A lot of people are picking the Chargers to go the Super Bowl, and it’s a division game. We want to get back into this thing; we’ve got to beat San Diego come Sunday.

    “We can’t go 2-4, and we can’t go 0-2 in the A.F.C. West.”

    And, Johnson said, the Chiefs cannot afford to get in an early hole.

    “You can’t work on your running game when you’re down 14-0, 21-zip,” he said. “We’re just going to have to battle the whole game.”
    Oohhh... I already didn't like Larry Johnson... now I hate him. Arrogant prick is gonna get what's comin' to him. 40 rushing yards and a whole lotta' headache.
  2. Shamrock

    Shamrock Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    It's not the same guys, as the author noted right below Johnson's statements. Roaf makes all the difference in the world for their running game.

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