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Saints down Chargers

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 27, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    By Kevin Acee , UNION-TRIBUNE
    Friday, August 27, 2010 at 9:48 p.m.



    NEW ORLEANS — It didn’t count, except to tell them where they need to get better and where they might be pretty good.
    So the Chargers left the Superdome and their matchup with the defending Super Bowl champions feeling as if they had accomplished their preseason goal of getting better each week.
    “The first half, we played the best we’ve played to this point in the preseason,” Norv Turner said.
    Dropped passes early, a couple defensive breakdowns throughout and an ineffective second-team offense led to the Saints beating the Chargers 36-21 in the third preseason game for both teams.
    “By the way,” tight end Antonio Gates said, “that was a very good team we played.”
    The Saints led 17-14 when both teams began substituting liberally in the third quarter.
    Throughout, there were big gains and dropped passes. There was good coverage and some that was less than effective. There was pressure here and there but not enough against an excellent offense that was trying.
    “There were so many positives we can take from it,” said Gates, who had five catches for 66 yards. “We dropped some passes, we could have made some more plays.”
    Two plays – one on offense, one on defense -- might have been the difference in the Chargers’ starters between the Chargers starters being able to claim victory and them knowing they didn’t capitalize.
    The second was a pass off wide-open tight end Kris Wilson’s hands that would have gone for a gigantic gain across midfield in the second quarter.
    The first was what appeared could have been an Antoine Cason interception that ended up a 46-yard touchdown reception by Devery Henderson that tied the game 7-7 late in the first quarter. The ball sailed through Cason’s hands, off his shoulder pads and into the hands of Henderson in the end zone.
    “That (overshadowed) the rest of the game for me,” Cason said. “I’m upset with myself. I know I have pretty good ball skills.”
    Still, one answer the Chargers will take into the season is that Cason can handle taking over at right cornerback. Saints quarterback Drew Brees repeatedly went after Cason, who had three passes defensed and played consistently in coverage.
    “I came out with the mindset to get better every week,” Cason said. “I am so confident in what I can do. I feel I’ve been getting better.”
    While they would struggle with some blocks and have Rivers hit some the game wore on, the Chargers opened the game looking season-ready and no worse for not having the Pro Bowl left tackle and wide receiver who they will begin and perhaps go through the season without.
    Rivers completed five of his six passes for 44 yards, Ryan Mathews ran five times for 32 yards. Jacob Hester followed left tackle Brandyn Dombrowski into the end zone from six yards out.
    “That first drive is about as good as it gets,” Rivers said. “We didn’t capitalize on some other things.”
    Ryan Mathews was hit harder, more often and more effectively than in his first two exhibitions. Still, the rookie gained 43 yards on 13 carries.
    After Mathews gained 32 yards on his first five carries – on runs of 5, 2, 16, 5 and 4 yards – the blitzing Saints defense wrapped him up for a time. He totaled 11 yards on his final seven runs.
    “Being able to run against a defense like that was very good,” Mathews said. “It was a learning experience.”
    A Chargers defense that expected to get tested, did. Brees finished 18-for-27 for 240 yards. The Chargers at times got to him, was at times stout against the run but also gave up a few big plays.
    “It wasn’t good enough,” linebacker Stephen Cooper said. “The pressure wasn’t enough. We didn’t do everything we wanted to do.”
     
  2. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Chargers fall to Saints, 36-21


    By Christopher Smith, Chargers.com
    Posted 7 hours ago
    8-28-2010


    The defending Super Bowl champions’ home venue is a tough place to play. New Orleans is no slouch of a football team, either, and provided a useful challenge for San Diego.

    NEW ORLEANS – Jazz music ushered the Chargers off the field.
    Accompanied by a vocal crowd at the Superdome that relished another Saints home win, the saxophone notes helped add San Diego to a ledger that’s grown exponentially, it seems like, in 2010.
    The Saints mustered a late first-half field goal to pull ahead and its backups stretched the lead to a final tally of 36-21.
    It was a familiar scene for opponents, who have dropped 11 of their last 12 in the facility. New Orleans rolled to an NFC Championship in the building ahead of the franchises’ first Super Bowl, then blitzed Houston, 38-20, last week.
    San Diego’s starters hung with the Saints for most of three quarters Saturday, but couldn’t muster a go-ahead score after halftime. Still, the Bolts engineered what Head Coach Norv Turner considered their finest preseason drive in three games and didn’t let New Orleans ride a waive of enthusiasm to a larger advantage during the second quarter.
    “I like the fact that we were playing this team. I like playing them on the road. This is a tough place to play,” Turner said. “I thought in the first half we played the best we’ve played to this point in preseason. We play that team, it’s going to be that type of game.”
    It didn’t take long for the Chargers to score on the Super Bowl champions. With a methodical, steady drive that’s become a San Diego staple this preseason, the Chargers earned a 7-0 lead after winning the coin toss, electing to receive and marching 82 yards on 12 plays.
    The Chargers’ running game made a statement with two carries on third-and-1.
    Ryan Mathews[​IMG] bounced the first outside and outran Saints linebacker Scott Shanle to the left edge for a 16-yard gain. Jacob Hester[​IMG] took the second and pinballed his way through the defense, pile-driving into the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown with 8:22 left in the first quarter.
    The pitch to Mathews was a derivative of the original play call, a gut handoff to Hester.
    “Philip (Rivers) just happened to pull it out and toss it to me,” Mathews said. “I just did what I had to do. I was trying to get the first down and I got a little bit more.”
    The rookie finished the first quarter with seven carries for 38 yards, but the Saints keyed on him after that and encouraged the Chargers to instead look to its receivers.
    “That was a good test. We ran the ball awfully well against Dallas last week and (the Saints) were not going to let us run the ball. That’s why we got some of that passing game going and we mixed some in,” Turner said.
    “Ryan certainly showed (his speed) on the third-and-1 where we threw the little pitch to him. The linebacker had the angle and for a second it looked like it was going to be a loss and it ends up being a big gain because he just outran the guy.”
    New Orleans chased down and passed San Diego as the Saints scored two unanswered touchdowns to gain a 14-7 lead. Drew Brees looked as sharp as he did in the playoffs, completing 9-of-11 passes despite some close coverage.
    The Superdome crowd, two days from the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, ignited.
    “This atmosphere is awesome. I can only imagine a regular season game,” Rivers said. “The noise level wasn’t quite what maybe we thought, but still, it made you have to go on the silent count and zero in and stay poised.”
    Twice facing third down with a raucous crowd leering for a stop and willing New Orleans to rip toward a two-score advantage, Rivers completed passes to Malcom Floyd[​IMG].
    The second nestled into the 6-foot-5 receiver’s fingertips in the back left corner of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown that tied the game, 14-14.
    A frenetic pace lurched forward near the end of the second quarter but then halted, becoming a punting contest in the third before Rivers and Brees exited the game. Neither offense gained much traction as the punters flipped field position inside the domed stadium.
    Garrett Hartley made a 27-yard field goal, his second of the game, after the initial series featuring backup Saints quarterback Patrick Ramsey. Chris Ivory added a 76-yard touchdown pass during the fourth as it appeared those insisting on a close finish were doomed for a let-down.
    But Nathan Vasher[​IMG] intercepted Ramsey a few plays later, setting up a 1-yard touchdown sneak by Billy Volek[​IMG].
    Down eight points, San Diego had a two-minute drive that fizzled inside the red zone. Volek advanced the Chargers to the New Orleans 26-yard line with 24 seconds left but Leigh Torrence intercepted his pass and streaked down the left sideline to shrieks of delight from Saints fans.
    “(We were) just a hair off on a couple things. But I thought it was good. We were playing a good team on the road. I think we got what we needed to get out of it and I think we got a week better,” Rivers said.
    “It was a 17-14 game (when the starters left). You’ve been going halfway into the third. It’s just hard to say it’s over, but that’s preseason, I guess. Obviously it’s a great opponent. You could still tell it was a little bit of preseason out there, both teams, but this would’ve been a heck of a game had it been (during the) regular season.”
     
  3. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    CHARGERS: Bolts can't halt march of the Saints

    Staff and Wire Reports North County Times - Californian | Posted: Saturday, August 28, 2010 12:15 am

    NEW ORLEANS -- If the third preseason game was a chance for the Chargers' starting defense to measure itself against one of the NFL's premier offenses, the unit didn't exactly pass with flying colors.
    Drew Brees played well into the second half and passed for 240 yards and two touchdowns on Friday night, sending the New Orleans Saints to a 36-21 victory over the Chargers at the Superdome.
    A week after dominating the Dallas Cowboys in limited action, the Chargers' first-string defense struggled at times against Brees and the Saints, who finished with 552 total yards.
    Chargers coach Norv Turner wasn't disappointed, though.
    "I liked the fact that we played this team," Turner said. "I like the fact that we're playing them on the road. This is a tough place to play.
    "I really like how our defense got after it, got after the ball-carrier, I thought there were a lot of good thngs in terms of pass defense against what was the No. 1 offense in the league last year.
    "I thought we finished drives and eliminated the false startes. I like the way our offensive line is playng. They're playing physical in the run (game). They're doing a good job of protecting, keeping the ball moving."
    Garrett Hartley kicked a 40-yard field goal with 37 seconds left in the first half, allowing the Saints to take a 17-14 lead into the locker room, and he added a 27-yard field goal late in the third quarter, leaving the Chargers' deficit at six points.
    The Chargers, trailing by eight points, had a chance to tie the game in the final moments, but Leigh Torrence intercepted an overthrown pass by backup quarterback Billy Volek and scored on an 87-yard return.
    In his most extended playing time of the preseason, Chargers QB Philip Rivers completed 16 of 27 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown. Rookie running back Ryan Mathews rushed for 43 yards on 13 carries.
    "I think we are real close -- just a hair off," Rivers said. "You know, we are playing against a good team out there, at their home. I really think we got what we wanted to get out of it there.
    "This is a really tough place to play. I can just imagine how it is during a regular-season game."
    The Saints' Devery Henderson came up with a 46-yard touchdown catch in the final moments of the first quarter, when Chargers cornerback Antoine Cason tipped an underthrown Brees pass just short of the goal line. Henderson also got a piece of the ball, however, and made the play in the end zone.
    The Saints took a 14-7 lead on Brees' 15-yard touchdown pass to Robert Meachem with 9:30 left in the first half, capping an 80-yard drive in seven plays. The Chargers tied the game at 14 on their next series, with Rivers hitting tight end Malcom Floyd for a 9-yard touchdown pass.
    On their first drive of the game, the Chargers marched 82 yards in 12 plays, including a 16-yard Mathews run on 3rd-and-1 and a 15-yard pass from Rivers to Antonio Gates. Fullback Jacob Hester, a former LSU star, capped the drive with a 6-yard burst up the middle.
    "It was awesome to come back here," Hester said. "I mean, I grew up a Saints fan. And then to come back here and score the first touchdown, I couldn't be happier."
    With New Orleans leading 20-14 midway through the fourth quarter, backup quarterback Patrick Ramsey got the ball to rookie running back Chris Ivory on a swing pass, and Ivory broke a couple tackles before outdistancing the Chargers' defense for a 76-yard touchdown.
    Chargers cornerback Nathan Vasher intercepted a Ramsey pass on the Saints' next series, and Volek's 1-yard quarterback sneak for a score trimmed the Saints' margin to 26-21.
    Ramsey got the Saints back into scoring position before they settled for Hartley's 35-yard field goal to make it 29-21 with 1:47 left in the game. Ramsey, a former Tulane star, completed 10 of 18 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown.
    Gates led the Chargers with 66 yards on five catches. Floyd and Buster Davis added 51 and 41 receiving yards, respectively.
    "We had a lot of success early and drove the ball well," Gates said. "The offense was clicking, and I had a lot of catches in the first half. We accomplished exactly what we had to tonight. Now it's upon us to study the film and fix what we can before the regular season starts.
    "We executed the game play, and I am real pleased with where we are."
     

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