Monday, November 2, 2009
Shawne Merriman(notes) got to break out his spasmodic “Lights Out” sack dance for the first time since 2007.
It was simply business as usual for the San Diego Chargers, who got two touchdowns from Tomlinson—one out of the wildcat—in beating Oakland 24-16 on Sunday, their 13th straight against the hapless Raiders. It’s the longest active NFL winning streak by one team over another.
The Chargers (4-3) have swept the series for the sixth straight season. Many Chargers, including quarterback Philip Rivers(notes), have never lost to the Raiders (2-6). It was San Diego’s seventh straight home win against the Raiders.
San Diego Chargers cornerback Antoine Cason(notes) and linebacker Stephen Cooper(notes) celebrate after a sack of Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell(notes) during the third quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009 in San Diego.
“When I first got here, the intensity and atmosphere of the game, it rubbed me the wrong way,” said Tomlinson, who was drafted by the Chargers in 2001. “By beating them 13 times, it means 13 times their fans went home with their heads hanging.”
Oakland coach Tom Cable called it “a big hump to get over. We’ve had two good opportunities this year. Are we closer? Yes. But you don’t take anything from it until you get over the hump.”
With the Denver Broncos losing 30-7 at Baltimore, the Chargers pulled within two games of the AFC West lead. San Diego is trying to win its fourth straight division title.
Merriman got his first two sacks since 2007, dropping JaMarcus Russell(notes) late in the second quarter and again late in the fourth. The outside linebacker has been working his way back from knee surgery that cost him the final 15 regular-season games and both playoff games last year.
“It’s one of those things that was long coming,” Merriman said. “I don’t put as big an emphasis on sacks as everybody else does. But they are important. I realize I’ve got to go out and make plays and get those sacks in order for us to be a better defense. As long as I’m doing that and putting pressure on the quarterback and forcing him to do things that he doesn’t want to do, we’re going to be better.”
San Diego had a season-high five sacks and allowed a season-low 180 yards. The other outside linebacker, Shaun Phillips(notes), also had two.
Rivers, who was sacked only once, was impressed watching his defense.
“Not that they haven’t been applying pressure, but it’s good to see. There’s something to getting the quarterback on the ground,” Rivers said. “I think it’s huge. The thing about sacks, just what I’ve seen from the sideline, these guys have had a force in some of these games. But when you don’t see it in sacks, it doesn’t get the attention.
“The thing with sacks that’s funny is you can have a spurt in a few games and all of a sudden have six, seven. I think it just shows what a huge pro he is, all these guys, that they just kept hammering away.”
The Chargers didn’t have to rally to win as they did in the season opener at Oakland, when they were physically beaten up by the Raiders despite taking a 24-20 victory.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie(notes) intercepted Russell when tight end Zach Miller fell down. It was the first pickoff in 20 games for Cromartie, who had 10 in 2007 but dropped off to two last season.
The Chargers’ first play from scrimmage was a 53-yard pass from Rivers to Malcom Floyd(notes), who replaced struggling Chris Chambers(notes) in the starting lineup. It gave San Diego first-and-goal on the 6. Tomlinson took the direct snap and ran around the right end for a 7-0 lead.
Oakland tied it early in the second quarter after Rivers’ pass to Vincent Jackson(notes) glanced off the receiver’s hands and was intercepted by Chris Johnson, who returned it 20 yards to the San Diego 27. Justin Fargas(notes) scored on a 3-yard run to cap the short drive.
San Diego scored on its next two drives to go up 21-7. Rivers hit a wide-open Jackson on an 8-yard scoring pass and Tomlinson scored on a 10-yard run.
Rivers was 16 of 25 for 249 yards. Tomlinson had 56 yards on 18 carries. Fargas also carried 18 times for 59 yards.
Tomlinson has accounted for 28 touchdowns against Oakland in his nine-year career: 22 rushing, three receiving and three passing.
All the Raiders got the rest of the way were three field goals by Sebastian Janikowski(notes), of 48, 41 and 28 yards.
Russell, benched in a 38-0 home loss to the New York Jets a week earlier, was 14 of 22 for 109 yards.
“He seemed very much to be in control today,” Cable said. “A couple throws he’d probably like to have over again, but for the most part he gave us a chance to win today.”
NOTES: Chargers ILB Tim Dobbins(notes) left on a cart with a knee injury but returned. … The Raiders reported these injuries: CB Chris Johnson (groin), DT Tommy Kelly(notes) (elbow), DT Gerard Warren(notes) (toe), LB Jon Alston(notes) (shoulder).
Sunday, October 25, 2009
SOURCE: DOUG TUCKER, AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—All that talk about San Diego getting better may not be all talk.
Six days after a disappointing Monday night loss to Denver in which they insisted they’d made strides, the Chargers swatted away the flu bug and stomped on Kansas City 37-7 Sunday, dominating in virtually every phase.
Philip Rivers(notes) threw three touchdown passes, LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) had a season-best 71 yards rushing and Nate Kaeding(notes), who was vomiting with flulike symptoms Saturday, kicked three field goals.
“Last week, we felt like we made progress,” Rivers said. “We had the attitude we were looking for, focus, but we didn’t win. But we knew we got better.
The Chargers (3-3) battled the flu much of the week. Tomlinson was unable to practice Wednesday, but the five-time Pro Bowl selection showed signs of getting back to his old self. His 36-yard run got the Chargers rolling on their first touchdown drive against the hapless Chiefs (1-6) and was his longest since last Dec. 28 against Denver.
“It kind of got us going,” Tomlinson said. “It was something we needed and it was a big play for us. It was a staple of our offense. It’s been around for years, old power. It was perfectly blocked and was just a great job of execution.”
With cold rain falling in the fourth quarter and Chiefs fans probably thinking nothing else could go wrong, something else did. Jacob Hester(notes) blew in from Dustin Colquitt’s(notes) right and blocked his punt.
The ball cooperated nicely, skittering 20 yards back into the end zone and waiting there for Hester to fall on it for San Diego’s final TD.
“My leg was coming through and any time you heard that double thump … I didn’t see him at all until the last second,” said Colquitt, whose punting has been one of the few bright spots for Kansas City. “That double thump is a bad sound.”
Virtually invincible in Arrowhead Stadium in the 1990s, the Chiefs have lost 10 straight at home and 29 of their last 32.
Rivers was 18 for 30 for 268 yards and three TDs as the Chargers won their third in a row in Kansas City for the first time since 1981. They took a 20-0 halftime lead.
“Any time you come to Kansas City and win, it’s good,” said Rivers, who had two 51-yard completions to Vincent Jackson(notes). “We talked about getting on a roll and you’ve got to win one first before you can. Hopefully, this is something we can build on.”
The Chiefs had hoped a sloppy win over Washington the week before might provide some much-needed momentum to first-year coach Todd Haley’s faltering program. But they played miserably in just about every phase.
“You never want to lose at home and you never want to lose in this fashion,” Cassel said. “It’s going to be a hard film to watch.”
Cassel was only 10 for 25 for 97 yards. He threw three interceptions and an injury-weakened line allowed him to be sacked four times.
The Chargers reeled off 135 yards on the ground after averaging a nearly league-worst 57.6 the first five games.
“It was a game we could have scored 50-something, we felt like,” said Rivers, whose touchdown passes covered 3 yards to Malcolm Floyd, 10 to Jackson and 58 to Darren Sproles(notes), who was wide open in the right flat and outran a safety into the end zone. “What we scored was enough and it’s good to win a game.”
Kaeding connected on kicks of 20, 39 and 19 yards.
“I thought our guys got prepared to play and played well and we were able to take away the things that Kansas City does best,” Chargers coach Norv Turner said.
Kansas City’s already injury-weakened offensive line took a severe hit late in the first quarter when center Rudy Niswanger(notes) went out with a knee injury. Wade Smith(notes), who started for injured left tackle Branden Albert(notes), moved to center and Barry Richardson(notes) came off the bench to play left tackle.
NOTES: Both kickers missed a 43-yard field goal. KC rookie Ryan Succop(notes) missed after going 4 for 4 the week before and getting the game ball. … A steady rain fell much of the second half, which the Chiefs had hoped would be in their favor against the Californians. Knowing rain was forecast for Sunday, the Chiefs had practiced in a hard rain all day on Wednesday.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Lack of pass rush and third-down efficiency hurts
Posted Oct 20, 2009
Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner said Tuesday that his team’s third-down performance on both sides of the ball was a key factor in the team’s inability to pull out a win Monday night against the Broncos.
The Chargers had just one turnover Monday night and gained just 17 fewer yards than the Broncos on offense, but the big discrepancy on the stat sheet in San Diego’s Week 6 AFC West showdown came on third down.
Denver was an impressive 9-of-16 on third down (56 percent) while the Chargers converted just 2-of-11 (18 percent) in the 11-point loss.
“That game obviously was a very winnable game for us,” Head Coach Norv Turner said. “What happens to you when you’re in a game that’s that close, it comes down to a few plays. We didn’t do a good job getting them off the field and we didn’t do a good job converting.”
Turner pointed to the success Denver had in pressuring quarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ lack of success in getting to Kyle Orton as key factors in how the two teams faired on third down.
Rivers was sacked five times Monday night, three coming on third down, while Larry English’s first-quarter hit on Orton was the only time the Chargers got to Denver’s quarterback.
“We struggled and obviously what was most significant in those two areas was our inability to get pressure on the quarterback and they did a good job,” Turner said. “We have to have a big emphasis (in practice) on our protections, continue to find ways to get pressure and we need a good emphasis on our third downs on both sides of the football.”
Denver’s aggressiveness on defense presented big-play opportunities, and the Chargers were able to connect on a handful of long gains such as Malcom Floyd’s 20-yard gain in the first quarter and a 21-yard Antonio Gates reception on San Diego’s first touchdown drive.
But when the Broncos did get to Rivers, the plays proved costly. Turner specifically discussed a 3rd-and-3 play that came in the third quarter just after Denver scored to take a 24-23 lead. Gates was running open down the sideline but a breakdown in protection kept Rivers from delivering the ball. Elvis Dumervil hit Rivers on the play and forced a fumble, which Denver recovered and turned into a field goal to extend their lead.
“We’ve got to continue to do a better job handling the pressure,” Turner said. “They’re attacking Scott Mruczkowski, they’re attacking Louis Vasquez and they’re forcing our backs to step up and block, but that’s what teams are going to do to us.”
Through five games, the Chargers have allowed 15 sacks, tied for 10th most in the NFL. Turner has praised Rivers on a few occasions lately for his pocket presence but as teams continue to frequently blitz the Chargers, Turner said he and his staff will have to continue to find ways to combat the pressure schematically.
“We’ve got to do some things where we can get the ball out quicker to help him based on what people are doing to us,” Turner said. “There were some blocks that we’re very capable of making and we need to make those blocks.”
There were areas where Turner felt his team played much better Monday night than they had in previous weeks. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson averaged 3.9 yards per carry and provided explosive plays.
“We need to get into a better rhythm in terms of running the ball,” Turner said.
The Chargers were also much better against the run. Going into Monday’s game, San Diego was giving up an average of 4.6 yards per carry. Denver rushed 33 times for 101 yards against the Chargers, 3.1 yards per attempt on the ground. The return of Travis Johnson and the addition of Ian Scott were factors in the improvement, according to Turner.
“We cut down on the number of snaps that all of those guys have been playing and got a pretty good rotation,” Turner said. “I thought against a team that has run the ball pretty well and has an outstanding offensive line, our run defense did a better job.”
Monday, October 19, 2009
THIS LOSS WAS TO BLAME ON OUR LACK OF AN OFFENSIVE LINE..AND THE REALLY BAD SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY.. OUR DEFENSE FINALLY SHOW UP TO PLAY AND THE GET NO OFFENSIVE SUPPORT.IF I WAS SPANOS I WOULD CALL CAM UP AND BEGG HIM TO TAKE THE HEAD COACHING JOB FROM NORV..I DONT KNOW THAT I HAVE EVER UDDERED THESE WORDS BUT HOLY CRAP WE SUCK!!!!!
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT PERFORMANCE ON MNF?
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Cooper, Stephen ILB Knee Questionable
Phillips, Shaun OLB Calf Probable
Merriman, Shawne OLB Grion Probable
Johnson, Travis DE-DT Grion Probable
Osgood, Kassim WR Back Probable
Applewhite, Antwan OLB Hamstring Out
Hardwick, Nick C Ankle Out
My favorite Chargers player would have to be the group of players known as the "Air Coryell"crew.
Three straight division titles (1979, 1980, 1981) with the Chargers, reaching the playoffs four consecutive times. With Dan Fouts as quarterback, San Diego's "Air Coryell" was among the greatest passing offenses in NFL history. The Chargers led the league in passing yards an NFL record 6 consecutive years from 1978-1983  and again in 1985.