Chargers (6-5) at Chiefs (4-7) Pre-Game Report

Once again in sole lead of the AFC West, the Chargers, coming off a huge home victory against Baltimore, travel to always-tough Kansas City, hoping to extend their lead in the division.  The Chiefs enter this matchup coming off a surprising (and no doubt frustrating) loss against Oakland last week.

Last time these two teams met, in San Diego in week 4, the Chiefs upset the Chargers 30-16 with 24 unanswered points coming in the 2nd half.  The Chiefs lead the historic series 50-43-1 and the Chiefs have won 3 of the past 4 meetings, including last year in Kansas City during the Chargers stellar 14-2 season.

Philip Rivers was back in 2006 form last week, tossing 3 TDs and no INTs.  Antonio Gates finally made an impact catching 2 of them.  While LaDainian Tomlinson didn’t break 100 yds (an unfortunately common theme this season), the team was cohesive on both sides of the ball and played a full 60 minutes — something they have had trouble with this year.  In week 4, LT rushed for over 100 yds in the first half; however, the play-calling in the 2nd half basically ignored the MVP.  There ought to be more of an impetus to utilize LT in this meeting throughout the entire game, particularly with the Chiefs’ defense which is currently 18th-against-the-run ranking heading into this week, as well as continuity by the Chargers defense riding the momentum from last week’s battle.

With Damon Huard out, Brodie Croyle is, once again, helming the Chiefs’ offensive, along with rookie RB Kolby Smith, who stepped up last week to fill in for the injured Larry Johnson and re-retired Priest Holmes, rushing for 150 yds and 2 TDs despite a loss to Oakland.  The Chiefs also just signed ex-Chargers kicker John Carney to assist their kicking “issues” as they cut Dave Raymer this week.

Here’s a cheery thought:  Norv Turner is winless against Kansas City, both as the Chargers head coach and during his tours of duty in Oakland and Washington in 6 meetings. 

The Chiefs will be tough, hoping to keep alive their hopes of a playoff berth in the very close and underachieving AFC West.  The Chargers, as stated earlier, want to extend their lead in the division, especially since 3 of their last 5 games are on the road.  The Chargers haven’t been great on the road this season. — here’s hoping they break that nasty trend.



A Kicker’s Story

Nate Kaeding has always been a star.  At Iowa City West High School, “Big Game Nate”, as he was nicknamed, played in state championships in football, soccer, and basketball.  He played for the University of Iowa, winning the prestigious Lou Groza Award in 2002.  He was drafted in the 3rd round (65th overall pick) by the San Diego Chargers as a result of the Eli Manning/Philip Rivers trade. 

Despite his talent, the postseason has not been kind to Kaeding.  He missed a potentially game-winning field goal in the 2005 playoffs against the New York Jets, and again in the 2006 playoffs, missing a potentially game-tying score against the New England Patriots – both time at home.  A member of the 2007 Pro Bowl team, he kicked the game-winning field goal with 4 seconds left.

Currently he has an 87% completion rate on field goals (13 of 15) and is 30 for 30 in extra points (and one of my BEST fantasy players this year!!  Thanks Nate!)

Nate Kaeding

(Sources:  nfl.com, wikipedia.org)


There You Go!! Week 12 Postgame Report

Chargers 35, Ravens 14

I had forgotten how LOUD Qualcomm can get, particularly in the closed end zone where my seats are. (Piped-in fan noise??  We don’t need no stinkin’ piped-in fan noise!!!)  It was a great day for football and the 63,000+ fans in attendance made an admirable 12th man for the Chargers.

Congrats to LaDainian Tomlinson, becoming the 4th fastest player to rush for 10,000 yards in the NFL (and the 3rd player this season!  Wow!!) 

It was stellar to see the Philip Rivers we all know and love in a 25/35, 249-yard, 3 TD (and NO INTs) outing in a decisive victory over the Ravens.  (Now do that for the rest of the season!) 

In addition to Rivers’ brilliance, Antonio Gates scored 2 of the Chargers’ 3 TDs and week-12-team-leading 105 yards.  Chris Chambers scored the other TD on a beautiful back-of-the-endzone pass by Rivers.  In addition, LT rushed for 77 yards (and reached another career milestone) and it was nice to see Vincent Jackson back in the game with 5 catches for 64 yards, including a fabulous 31-yard grab.  Nate Kaeding hit a perfect 4 of 4 FGs as well.

The DST stepped up their game, sacking Kyle Boller 5 times and forcing 2 fumbles.  Shawne Merriman and Igor Olahanksy were on fire, each with 5 tackles, a sack, and a FF.

Willis McGahee extended his streak of consecutive games with a rushing TD to 6, but it wasn’t enough for the downward-sliding Ravens, who gave up 30+ points in 2 consecutive weeks.

With the Raiders’ surprising win over the Chiefs and the Broncos OT loss to Chicago, the Chargers once again regain sole possession of 1st place in the AFC West, and travel to the always tough Kansas City next weekend.  Hopefully they will continue their momentum into the home stretch, as 3 of their last 5 games are on the road.


Sorry in Advance for the Delay…

I apologize in advance to all of my wonderful loyal readers as I will be out of town this weekend so I can go to the Chargers/Ravens game in San Diego! 

After being a season ticketholder since 1993, I haven’t been to a home Chargers game since the first game of the season in 2003 (vs. Denver.)  I did make it to the Chargers/Cardinals preseason game this year (as I’m sure you all read about earlier!)  But a home Chargers game is so much different and special.  Although this year isn’t going as well as Chargers players and fans hoped, and toss the fires in as well….well, it’s been a pretty stressful football season.

Anyway, I didn’t think I’d miss not going to the games as much as I do.  I mean, I have NFL Sunday Ticket, so I do have a great seat for every game.  And I’ve purchased air horns from Wal Mart (much to the annoyance of my neighbors — payback for loud music and annoying dogs), but the atmosphere is so different.  From getting Chargers airbrushed tattoos to the deafening noise when the opponent is 3rd and 22 to the smell of hot dogs, nachos, and drunk men. (I have tried to pour beer on my husband, but it’s really not the same; although the first time I used the airhorn I accidentally had it aimed toward my head – big, big, HUGE mistake!)

I am also looking forward to visiting my favorite restaurant ever.  D.Z. Akin’s famous deli in La Mesa, CA — for all of you planning on visiting America’s Finest City (at least it was prior to the wildfires and the idiocy of the current mayor for not working harder toward a new stadium for the Chargers.  I mean, sheesh, does he not realize that no new stadium means no Super Bowls or tourism money being deposited into San Diego’s troubled economy?) 

So, my post-game writeup and witty Chargers insight will be delayed a bit, but I’ll return fueled with ideas to keep this blog fresh and exciting!

(The view from my seats!)


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Best wishes for a SAFE, HEALTHY and HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone!!

Enjoy the games!

turkey

(“I hear ham is tasty!”)

pig

(“Yes, but turkey is leaner!”)


Opening the Flood Gates

Entering week 12, Antonio Gates is currently tied for 1st place among all tight ends in the league with 6 TDs, 2nd in yards (729) and 3rd in receptions (54.)  

Recalling the last time the Chargers played Houston, opening day 2004, Gates recorded 8 receptions for 123 yards.  He says, “That was the start of me getting a little attention…It was my best game of my career…It’s definitely a good memory I have.”  He went on to have a record season (81 receptions, 964 yards, 13 TDs) and earned his first Pro Bowl election. 

Courtesy of atomicsportsmedia.com

More factoids:

1.  In recent history, Gates has appeared in 3 consecutive Pro Bowls (actually being the AP’s only unanimous selection in 2005.) 

2.  Since 2004, Gates is #2 in TDs receptions behind Indy’s Marvin Harrison.

3.  Currently holds the NFL record for single-season TDs by a tight end with 13. 

4.  In 2005 he joined Todd Christenen as the only two tight ends in NFL history with 1100 receiving yds and 10 TDs in a single season.

5.  The Chargers are 5-0 when Gates has multiple TDs (ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION NORV?!?) 

(Source:  Pearce, Casey.  Gates recalls fond memory in Houston.  Chargers.com, wikipedia.org)


Week 12 Pregame – Baltimore (4-6) @ San Diego (5-5)

O.K.  Revenge time boys.  Last season, in the Chargers’ impressive 14-2 season, their only two losses were to Baltimore and Kansas City, with the Ravens upsetting the Bolts in the final 3 minutes of the their game, 16-13.

This season, neither team is performing as expected.  Two of the league’s best DSTs from last year are certainly not playing up to par this season, although the Ravens look considerably better than the Chargers, despite their records.  Currently, Baltimore is ranked 13th against the pass and 2nd against the rush.  Despite the stellar performance by San Diego against Indianapolis a mere 2 weeks ago, their defense is nowhere near last season or this season’s expectations.

Inconsistency has been the downfall of the Chargers this year.  Inconsistencies with play-calling, with fundamental skills (i.e. tackling, catching the ball), and inconsistencies with attitudes.  Gone is the focused determination of last year, when they could be behind going into the 4th quarter and I KNEW they would come back and win it. 

Both teams are coming off disappointing losses and both should be of the mental state for fierce competition.  At least Philip Rivers seems to be more productive at home, looking more comfortable under center in front of the home crowd and throwing fewer INTs.  LaDainian Tomlinson has more scores at home, and the receiving corps, including Antonio Gates, just seems more productive at home as well. 

LT needs only 29 rushing yds to surpass 10,000 yds, and marking this milestone at home is a priority.  Last year’s MVP, he hasn’t had over 100 yds on the ground in 4 consecutive games this season.  Making a dent in the Ravens’ excellent rush defense is key.  Also, limiting Rivers’ INTs is a high priority (he already has 12 INTs this season, compared to  only 11 TDs.)

And speaking of INTs, Antonio “the other Antonio” Cromartie leads the league with 6 INTs (3 off Peyton Manning.)

Despite Baltimore’s QB “issues,” particular with injuries and inconsistencies surrounding Steve McNair, its rushing game is decent, with Willis McGahee coming to San Diego holding a streak of 6 consecutive games with a rushing TD.

Seriously, though, going into the homestretch of the season, the Bolts have some tough competition ahead; games IN Tennessee, Kansas City (always tough) and Oakland, as well as home games vs. Detroit and Denver.  Granted, the AFC West isn’t the strongest division in the league at the present, somebody has to win it.

So, if revenge is, indeed, sweet, I’ll bring the whipped cream and cherry to top it off!


A Lesson in Intensity

Remember when your mom told you to think before you speak? (See mom, I WAS listening, just not practicing.) 

After a heated remark questioning the committment of the team after the disappointing loss to Jacksonville last week, all pro LB Shawne Merriman had a slight change of demeanor the following day, explaining that the difficulties encountered by the Bolts this season amount to small miscommunications and a shortage of fundamental skills.

Merriman went on to explain that the preponderance of cameras and reporters infiltrating the locker room after a loss when emotions are heated does little to encourage effective communication from the players.   A self-proclaimed bad loser, Merriman continued to say that he (rightfully so, as is human nature) may be a little hot-headed and may say a thing or two that he regrets afterward.

To compound the loss, dropping the Bolts to a mediocre 5-5, was the surprising hit by 5’7″ Maurice Jones-Drew upon Merriman, knocking him on his butt, which apparently the rest of the Chargers didn’t waste any time teasing him about (similar to Philip Rivers’ lumbering TD run earlier this season.)

Merriman is not without a sense of humor, stating, “I should probably send him a thank you card for (angering) me the rest of the season.”

Shawne Merriman(What a teddy bear, huh?)

(Source:  Wilson, Bernie. North County Times)


Random Rantings – Volume 1

Welcome, dear readers, to a new series of articles based upon my overactive mind and my daughter’s overruse of the word “random.”

Thanks to the New England Patriots, I can no longer enjoy late night syndicated reruns of “The Brady Bunch” on Nick @ Nite.  Just the mere viewing of the word “Brady” sends my stomach into convulsions.

Thanks to Peyton Manning, I have sold my stock in Sony, switched my mobile phone carrier from Sprint, cut up all of my Mastercards in favor of Visa, and burned my Reeboks.  I will not, however, cancel my DirecTv contract until another satellite provider offers NFL Sunday Ticket (I do have my priorities.)  On a side note, I have doubled my inventory of Nikes based upon its brilliant LT and Merriman commericals.

Furthermore, based upon Kevin Faulk being a Patriot and the at-times inane comments by Marshall Faulk (whom I onced very much admired) I am seriously considering divorcing my husband because, yes, that is our surname.  Of course, unless “Uncle Marshall” or “Uncle Kevin” would like to loan me some money.  The preceeding statements do not apply to Saints’ 3rd year LB Trev Faulk, who looks like a fine, upstanding young man.  (*Disclaimer:  I wrote this paragraph prior to Kevin Faulk’s injury Sunday night vs. Buffalo, and hope he will be o.k.)

Well, folks…that’s it for now.  Stay tuned for further posts.

Peyton Manning

(It’s a bit late to be incognito.)