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Trio of cornerbacks come up big

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 14, 2007.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Sunday, Oct 14, 2007
    By Tom Shanahan, Chargers.com

    Modern-day NFL rules emphasize the passing game, so two strong starting cornerbacks aren't enough for teams that want to win a championship.

    Three corners are needed to frequently play nickel and dime defensive coverage schemes, and the Chargers believe they have an interchangeable trio that is one the best in the league.

    The Bolts needed all three in their 28-14 win over the Oakland Raiders Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium as Drayton Florence, Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer all made crucial plays that prevented the game's momentum from shifting to the Raiders.

    First was an interception by Florence on the Raiders' initial possession that led to the Chargers' second touchdown and 14-0 lead.

    Next was a touchdown-saving tackle by Quentin Jammer at the 1-yard line just before halftime to preserve the Chargers' 14-7 lead.

    And then came Cromartie's interception in the third quarter in Chargers' territory when the Bolts were still clinging to a one-touchdown lead.

    "I thought we played well today," Florence said. "We came up on the run and made tackles and we didn't let them throw the ball deep down field. We wanted to play assignment football, and that's what we did."

    Florence's interception was the fifth-year veteran's first of the year and also the first of his career in two games against an old friend, Raiders' quarterback Daunte Culpepper. They're both from the Vanguard High in Ocala, Fla., although Culpepper was four years ahead of Florence.

    Florence said he was in zone coverage and read a curl pattern by the receiver in his area before making the theft at the Raiders' 39-yard line.

    "(Defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell) put us in the right coverage," Florence said. "The No. 1 receiver ran a curl. I stayed where I was and he threw it right to me."

    Jammer's tackle of Ron Curry on the wide receiver's 31-yard gain to the 1-yard line not only prevented a touchdown, the Chargers got the ball back two plays later on a fumble to prevent the Raiders from getting at least a field goal in the final minute of the second quarter.

    The sixth-year veteran, regarded as one of the best tackling corners in the NFL, came off his receiver when he saw Culpepper release the ball.

    Jammer's man was running a pattern the same direction as Curry but deeper in the right side of the end zone. When Jammer released, he was able to beat Curry to the right corner of the end zone with his tackle.

    "I was just doing what I do," Jammer said. "They weren't throwing at me, so I figured I would make a few tackles. I came off my man -- he was running a 9 route -- and I when I was looking back I saw the quarterback the ball. I just turned around and ran to the play."

    At that point, a touchdown would have tied the game and a field goal would have trimmed the Chargers' lead to 14-10 with the Raiders set to receive the second-half kickoff.

    "That was a huge play," Chargers outside linebacker Shawne Merriman said. "You'd think on most teams after a guy made a tackle at the 1-yard line, players would hang their heads. Not here. That gave us a second wind and we made something happen. That was a heck of a play by him."

    Outside linebacker Shaun Phillips rushed Culpepper and his sack forced the fumble recovered by nose tackle Jamal Williams.

    The score was still 14-7 midway through the third quarter when the Raiders had advanced to their own 47-yard line. But when Culpepper looked for Jerry Porter down the left sideline, Cromartie was in position to intercept the overthrown ball at the Chargers' 23.

    "During the game I was jumping on the slant," Cromartie said. "But then we went to a zone coverage and I played a little softer. He ran the slant, but I didn't jump the slant. I stayed back and he threw the ball right to me."

    For Cromartie, the second-year veteran drafted in the first round in 2006, it was his first career interception.

    "The frustration is over," Cromartie said. "This year I dropped a couple of interceptions in the Green Bay game. It's something I had to get over, and now that I have the first one, hopefully they'll start coming in bunches."

    Chargers veteran free safety Marlon McCree, the captain of the secondary, said the secondary and the defense overall is coming together with more familiarity.

    "We executed our assignments," McCree said. "A lot has been made of Ted and the way he calls plays. But when we came in on Mondays to watch film, it was never his calls. It was always our execution; a guy missing a tackle or not filling a gap. They were self-inflicted wounds. Now we don't have that. We have guys being where they're supposed to be and wrapping up to make tackles. We're performing better."

    On three big pass plays against the Raiders, the Chargers' trio of corners were exactly where they needed to be.
     
  2. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

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    :abq2: JAMMER:abq2:
    :abq2: FTW:abq2:
    :abq2: BABY!!!!:abq2:
     

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