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Shifty Tomlinson was in overdrive

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Oct 3, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2005/10/03/shifty_tomlinson_was_in_overdrive/" target="_blank">The Boston Globe</a>

    By Fluto Shinzawa

    FOXBOROUGH -- The game was well over, but LaDainian Tomlinson still wasn't letting his boys out of his sight.

    As Tomlinson walked off the field yesterday, the San Diego running back closely trailed his bodyguards, tackles Roman Oben and Shane Olivea, well aware that the 300-pound pillars helped dictate the 41-17 outcome as well as his 134-yard day.

    ''They've got some great guys up front," Tomlinson said of the Patriots' defensive line. ''It's hard to block them. Our offensive line did a great job controlling the line of scrimmage."

    The week before, the New England defensive line bullied the Steelers, storming Ben Roethlisberger and keeping Willie Parker (three straight 100-yard performances entering the game) contained.

    Yesterday, the Patriots had a similar defensive gameplan, aiming to keep the high-octane Tomlinson from turning Gillette Stadium into his personal drag strip. In the passing game, New England's scheme was to jostle tight end Antonio Gates and receivers Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker at the line and get hands in quarterback Drew Brees's face.

    They could do none of the above.

    Tomlinson carried the ball 25 times for those 134 yards and two touchdowns, including a 1-yard charge in the third quarter when he was wrapped up by Monty Beisel but charged through the linebacker's tackle into the end zone. The San Diego offensive line built a cozy pocket for Brees (zero sacks for New England), who completed 19 of 24 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriot secondary. Perhaps the lone defensive standout was Willie McGinest, who recorded four solo tackles and batted a Brees pass in the second quarter.

    ''We did a bad job. We did a bad job," tackle Vince Wilfork said repeatedly.

    New England appeared to line up mostly in the 3-4, mixing in four-lineman sets as well. The Chargers anticipated a smashmouth effort from the New England linemen and linebackers, whose reputation for surliness has preceded them throughout the league.

    ''We always want to be the most physical bunch, especially this week playing a front seven like the Patriots have," Brees said. ''We felt like something we had to do was be successful in the running game."

    That success first appeared in the second quarter when the Chargers, despite three penalties, went 57 yards in the no-huddle offense for their first touchdown. Brees completed an 11-yarder to Parker. Three plays later, he found Gates for a 15-yard completion, then found his tight end with a 13-yard pass again two plays later. After San Diego advanced to the New England 11, Brees found McCardell open in the end zone for the first of San Diego's four touchdowns.

    ''I don't think people understand how hard it is to go no-huddle, play after play, run-blocking and pass-blocking," said Brees, whose team had the ball for 36:38 compared to New England's 23:22. ''It's even harder on a defense."

    Richard Seymour, who had four solo tackles and two sacks against Pittsburgh, was a non-factor. He had six total tackles yesterday, but rarely barreled into the backfield as he did the week before.

    With Seymour failing to apply pressure, Brees repeatedly dropped back with time to consider his options. When Brees felt pressure, he dumped off to Tomlinson (three catches, 34 yards) or Gates, the wide-shouldered, high-jumping tight end who caught six passes, including a 38-yarder in the third quarter when he posted up Guss Scott just outside the New England end zone. On the following drive, Brees threw one of his best balls when he floated a 28-yard touchdown pass to Reche Caldwell, who dove to catch the spiral.

    ''It was non-existent," Seymour said of the pass rush. ''We've got a lot of work to do, starting with myself. Richard Seymour's got to get better and on down the line. We've got to look in the mirror and get better."

    While Brees was threading passes all afternoon, his backfield mate was having just as much success. Yesterday, Tomlinson said he noticed during film sessions that the Pittsburgh, Carolina, and Oakland centers often got cut off before blocking Wilfork, which allowed the 325-pound Patriot tackle to gum up opposing running games.

    Yesterday, San Diego center Nick Hardwick repeatedly rammed into Wilfork, which gave Tomlinson, who would initially lean right, enough space to cut back to his left and elude the tackle's beefy arms. Tomlinson's best rush came in the second quarter when he sliced right for an 11-yard run, setting up Brees's 11-yard strike to McCardell.

    ''The center has to cut him off. It's critical," Tomlinson said. ''But with a center like Nick, he's quick enough to get that done. That allowed me to cut back right before he was able to get to the ball."

    In the fourth quarter, with the Patriots trailing, 31-17, but still within the boundaries of a rally, New England's noodle-legged front seven suffered its worst battering of the game. The Patriots gave Tomlinson room to run and Brees time to throw, and after nearly nine minutes had ticked off, New England had allowed San Diego to drive 72 yards for a game-cementing Nate Kaeding field goal that made it 34-17.

    ''We didn't do a good-enough job, period," Seymour said. ''We knew they'd come in and establish the running game. I take that on my shoulders. I've got to do a better job."

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