Once again, Chargers 17, Titans 6
O.K., where to start? How about with Chris Chambers, who had his best game of the season in his first career playoff game (bet he’s glad he left Miami!) with 6 catches for 121 yds, with his 3rd-and-10, 39-yd clutch reception in the 4th quarter which kept alive the drive which culminated with LaDainian Tomlinson’s over-the-top TD to lock in the win for the Chargers. Vincent Jackson was also deserving of a game ball, with his 5 receptions for 114 yds and TD. In fact, this was only the 3rd time in Chargers’ history where 2 receivers had over 100-yds apiece, the prior 2 instances were in 1982 and 1983.
And how about the defense?? Sacks by Shawne Merriman, Luis Castillo (remember, he was still injured the last time these two teams met) and Jacques Cesaire; a forced fumble by Merriman; and an INT by Drayton Florence. By the way, how about Castillo’s little post-sack mambo? Nice rhythm!
Mike Scifres’ fabulous punting forced the Titans’ offense to start deep within their own territory (and what is up with him NOT being selected to the Pro Bowl again?!?!) Despite Nate Kaeding’s missed FG, he rebounded with perfection from then on.
Interesting, however, was the drastic difference between the two halves. San Diego was held to 3 first downs the ENTIRE half, as well as a pathetic 3 total rushing yds. Yes, you heard correctly, the team with MVP LT held to 3 yds rushing in an entire half?!?
The second half, however, brought back the Chargers we all know and love. I have to admit (as stated in my earlier post) that I was beginning to lose hope, particularly with the lovely heavy rainfall in which we were sitting. I was cursing Norv Turner, cursing A.J. Smith for hiring him, cursing Drew Brees for being too short, cursing Wade Phillips for being successful in Dallas, and cursing Cam Cameron for leaving the Chargers to fail miserably as a head coach.
It was LT’s first postseason career win, and one could tell. He was smiling ear to ear after his 4th quarter TD, taking encores along the sidelines for all us ecstatic fans who were screaming wildly and chanting “LT LT LT!”
Antonio Gates did leave the game on the cart with, what we later found out, a sprained left big toe (hey, don’t laugh…Eric Parker has been out all season with turf toe.) Hopefully, he will be A-O.K. for Sunday’s game in Indy. But hey, if not, there’s still Brandon Manumaleuna, Chambers, Vincent Jackson, Kassim Osgood, Craig Davis, Malcom Floyd, LT, Michael Turner, Andrew Pinnock, Legedu Naanee and Darren Sproles as potential targets for Philip Rivers. Not too shabby, if you ask me.
In fact, the Chargers have got some depth. Defensively too. Every player is ready to go, ready to step up and fill in and play like a TEAM; quite a novel concept in this day of “superstar” players who don’t realize there are other competent players as well. In some other forums in which I lurk, I often hear criticisms about the Chargers, particularly LT, who is labeled as ‘classless.’ HUH? Excuse me? Just because he happens to be a modest, humble and private individual (qualities I, in fact, do admire) he is called classless? Actually, I looked up ‘classless’ in Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary and lo and behold, there was a picture of Bill Belichick.
Sorry for the segue. Um, where was I? Oh yea, admiring the depth and the CHARACTER of the Chargers, who will soon be on their way to Indianapolis to, once again, hopefully, beat the Colts and earn a spot in the AFC Championship Game (a game I hope will be in San Diego against the Jacksonville Jaguars.) The Chargers are hot right now. They are confident and classy and peaking at the right time. Oh, and throw in a bit of luck as well (why should New England corner the market in the luck department? Because frankly, I see several of their wins, particularly the last 4 games, as LUCKY. Not to mention the blatant oversight of the officiating crews not calling obvious penalties against the Patriots’ offensive line.) But I digress (again….)
So, I shall sign off for now with a pictoral homage to the Chargers’ first playoff victory since 1995. Way to go, guys!!