The “Other” Antonio

Way to go Antonio Cromartie, Week 9 AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for that unbreakable 109-yd missed FG return for TD in Minnesota.  Despite the heartbreaking loss to the Vikings, it’s nice to have such a bright spot!

Being his 2nd special teams TD in 2 consecutive weeks (he recovered an “errant punt” in the end zone against Houston) and 3rd score in the same 2 week span, the Chargers are looking at having Cromartie play a stronger role in the San Diego return game.  Currently, Darren Sproles is both the kick and punt returner.

Last week, Mike Scifres won the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. 

Cromartie’s INTs v. Indy


Big Game Pregame – Colts (7-1) @ Chargers (4-4)

Remember December 18, 2005?  Well I do.  The Colts were undefeated going into Week 14 and the Chargers visited the RCA Dome.  Michael Turner broke an 83-yard rush for a TD with just over 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter to beat the Colts 26-17 and end their perfect season.  (My neighbors were REALLY upset that day over the noise!)

This time Indy is traveling to San Diego, having already had their hopes for a perfect season quashed by the still-undefeated New England Patriots (ahem, cough, cheaters, ahem.)  The Chargers are struggling this season, after winning 3 straight, good ole Norv Turner failed to give LT the ball enough while the Vikings rushed for over 300 yds against the then-ranked 8th-against-the-rush Chargers defense, dropping them to .500 midway through the season.  Thankfully for them, Green Bay managed to beat the Chiefs to keep the Bolts tied atop the AFC West for another week.

The key for San Diego is to pressure Peyton Manning or he will have a field day against their suspect secondary.  Shaun Phillips may be back for this game, and he and Shawne Merriman will need to give Manning a little taste of burnt San Diego turf.  With the injury last week to Luis Castillo, Jacques Cesaire and Jamal Williams are going to have to plug holes so Joseph Addai doesn’t get the yardage he did last week.

Furthermore, Philip Rivers (back at home and no extraneous dome noise) is typically more relaxed.  Similarly, LaDainian Tomlinson has scored 6 of his 7 TDs at home.  The Chargers are also counting on 12th man support for this Sunday night game as well as big plays from their big players.   Antonio Cromartie, has 3 TDs in his last 2 games, including a new NFL-record 109-yard missed-FG return for TD last week.  Antonio Gates was the leading TE going into last week, and although slipping, is still in the top-5.  Chris Chambers has a few clutch catches since donning the blue and gold.  And Vincent Jackson (I’m rooting for ya Vince!) need to stop dropping those important long balls.

Interestingly, the Chargers hold the edge in the series over Indy 13-8; and prior to the Colts loss in 2005, Indy had beaten San Diego in 3 straight games.

As both teams are reeling over last week losses, this game is infinitely more important to the Chargers as they struggle to win a 2nd consecutive AFC West title, and their 3rd in 4 years.


A Tragedy of Errors

Will someone please tell me how a defense who enters a game tied for 2nd in the league with 19 takeaways (and adding to that with 2 more forced fumbles), a defense who was ranked 8th against the rush coming into the game manages to give up almost 300 rushing yards?!  Perhaps it was the repeated attempts to strip the ball from RB Adrian Peterson as opposed to tackling him. 

Furthermore, the unnecessary 10 penalties for 67 yards — many negating long receptions — hampered any strides the Chargers were taking toward a victory.  In fact, the 67 penalty yards amounted to almost one-third of the 229 yards of total offense accumulated by San Diego.

Minnesota capitalized on Philip Rivers’ inexperience in a dome and their relentless blintzing worked to throw the young QB off his rhythm, limiting him to a pitiful 19 completions out of 42 attempts for 197 yards.  Any long pass which was actually caught (and there was a severe lack of these to begin with) were called back due to penalties.

Listen up, Norv!  If you don’t crack down on the subpar playing of your team, you can kiss any shot of staying astride the Chiefs for contention for the AFC West title.  In addition to playing the Colts next week, the Chargers still have rematches with Oakland, Kansas City and Denver; not to mention Jacksonville, Baltimore and the surprising Detroit Lions.  It is very difficult for me (and I’d venture to lay money that others are included) to watch the Chargers this year, particularly after the stellar year they had last season.  Show all San Diego fans that hiring you wasn’t one of the biggest mistakes in the history of the organization (because Ryan Leaf takes the cake.)


Week 9 Injury Report

DE Luis Castillo underwent surgery on his right ankle Monday after being injured early in the 3rd quarter Sunday in the Chargers’ disappointing loss to Minnesota.  He is expected to miss six weeks; hopefully, returning Christmas Even when the Bolts host the Broncos.  A similar injury to his other ankle late last season sidelined him for six weeks as well.

CB Quentin Jammer was injured as well and is day-to-day with a sore hamstring.

WR Craig Davis (ankle) and LB Shaun Phillips (groin) should both be 100% to play next Sunday when the Chargers host the Colts.

C Nick Hardwick isn’t expected to return from his injury in time for the Colts. 

(Source:  chargers.com)


Unbreakable!

Antonio Cromartie set an unbreakable NFL record Sunday in the Chargers disappointing loss to the Vikings.  When Ryan Longwell’s 57-yd FG attempt fell just barely short, Cromartie was standing there to catch the ball on the back end of the endzone and run it back 109 yards for a TD.  This is Cromartie’s 3rd TD in 2 games, last week against Houston returning and INT as well as recovering a fumble.

 Previously, Chicago superstars Devin Hester and Nathan Vasher as well as Patriot Ellis Hobbs shared the honor with a 108-yd return.

(Source:  chargers.com)


Week 9 Postgame Report – Disappointing

Chargers 17, Vikings 35

A fantastic performance by RB Adrian Peterson with a new NFL-record 296 rushing yds and 3 TDs against a decent San Diego DST, which really didn’t play well today.  The highlight for the Chargers was an NFL-record 109-yd missed FG runback for a TD by Antonio Cromartie, his 3rd TD in 2 games.

Aside from that, the Chargers looked lackluster, much like they did in their 3-game losing streak earlier this season.  Philip Rivers was either overthrowing his receivers or trying to force the pass against a Vikings DST which blitzed frequently and often.  LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates were completely underutilized, and the few decent catches by Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers were negated by penalties.

Not one Charger WR or TE caught for over 100 yds or a score.  The only scores came off an LT run and Cromartie’s record-breaking return.  Tomlinson was held to only 40 yds on 16 carries.

Tavaris Jackson was injured again and, again, Brooks Bollinger looked great, tossing a nice TD to rookie WR Sidney Rice.

Mike Scifres, recipient of the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week last week was, once again, spectacular.

With the Packers victory over the Chiefs, San Diego stays tied for 1st atop the AFC West, with Kansas City still possessing the tiebreaker.  The Chargers host defending champion Indianapolis next week.

LT & AP

(2 of the best RBs in the NFL)

 


Minnesota’s Noisy Dome

 Several teams have complained about the level of noise in the Minneapolis Metrodome.  Green Bay’s coach Mike McCarthy reflects upon games played against the Vikings where extra noise was pumped through the stadium’s PA system, as well as speakers placed just so to affect offensive play by the opponents.

As a result, the NFL has implemented rules governing extraneous noise.  In September 2006, a memo was sent to all teams to reinforce said rules and penalties.

The rules don’t apply to spontaneous noise, only artificial noise and when and how the home team can “encourage” fans to be noisier.  However, there are restrictions on when artificial noise can be played and what home teams can do to coax the crowd.

A)  Home teams are only allowed 4 speakers on the field during the game and they must be between the goal line and the 20-yd line.  Futhermore, they can’t face the opponents’ bench or the field. 

B)  When the visiting team is on offense, any broadcasted noise through the PA system must stop when the play clock resumes.

C)  While less “flagrant” attempts to induce the fans are common (i.e. scoreboard signs to encourage noise), they must stop when the offense breaks the huddle.  More flagrant methods are prohibited.  

D)  All noisemakers are prohibited (i.e. blowhorns, whistles.)

Offenders can be fined up to $50,000 for a first offense.

(Source:  Dougherty, Pete.  Decibel level challenges visitors to the Metrodome.  Packersnews.com)

 


Honor for Scifres

P Mike Scifres was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after the Chargers win over Houston last week.  In typical Scifres fashion, he said his coverage team deserves the attention stating, “All I did was kick the ball,” before giving kudos to his teammates.

And kick the ball he did, netting a career-high 50.2-yd average and a 63-yd punt.  Currently, he ranks 4th in the AFC and hopes to repeat his performance in the dome in Minnesota this week.

Mike Scifres

(Source:  Chargers.com)


CB Florence fined $15,000

Last week 5th year CB Drayton Florence delivered a helmet-to-jaw hit on Texans’ QB Matt Schaub.  As a result, Florence has been fined $15k by the NFL.  This was the 2nd straight week Schaub has been eliminated from a game by these types of hits.  Florence said he will appeal, while the Texans’ organization is angry at the fine since Schaub won’t be starting in Week 9 against the Raiders.  Backup Sage Rosenfels will get the start.

Drayton Florence


Week 9 Pre-Game: Chargers (4-3) at Vikings (2-5)

Fresh off their third win in a row, the Chargers are finally in the groove, thanks to the addition of Chris Chambers, the steadiness of Antonio Gates and Philip Rivers and the resurgence of LaDainian Tomlinson and the Chargers DST.  This week they enter the dome in Minnesota to take on the troubled Vikings.

All eyes will be on the battle of the Texas RBs — Minnesota’s stud RB Adrian Peterson and 2006 MVP LaDainian Tomlinson.  Peterson currently has 123 more rushing yds than Tomlinson, and Tomlinson has one more rushing TD.  Both backs have 1 receiving TD apiece; however, Peterson isn’t the passing threat that LT is.  Both DSTs are strong against the rush; San Diego is 7th and Minnesota, 3rd.

The main determining factor will be the passing game and the productivity of the QBs and receivers.  Philip Rivers has shown tremendous improved confidence in his last 3 games and the addition of Chambers to the receiving corps just compounds the arsenal of weapons at his disposal.  For the Vikings, however, having to rely on 3rd string QB Kelly Holcomb is not a winning equation.

The last time these two teams met, San Diego easily won 42-28 and LT had 207 yds from scrimmage and 2 TDs.  Historically, the Chargers have a slight advantage of 5-4 in the series, winning 2 of the last 3 matchups.