Mental Mistakes Haunt Chargers in 16-10 Loss

Chargers Burford sacked 5 times, throws an INT

During practice this week the San Diego Chargers put the "Seattle rule" in effect. The rule was in reference to sloppy play from a week ago that saw penalties and turnovers cost the Chargers badly. Too bad the players did not heed the warning. Penalties and costly turnovers again cost the Bolts in a 16-10 loss against Arizona in the preseason home opener at the Q.

Over 41,000 fans were there to witness the mental mistakes the Chargers went through. It started with a 94-punt return by Eric parker being negated by a Quentin Jammer holding call. The Chargers took the ball at their own 4-yard line after the penalty. Drew Brees led the Chargers on a 16-play drive but they could not punch it in and instead settled for a field goal by Steve Christie to make it 3-0. LaDainian Tomlinson had one carry on the drive, a 14-yard scamper and after the vintage performance he was taken out.

"It was just a little taste of what everybody is expecting from us," Tomlinson said of the long drive. "It felt like we were putting it together, when we just marched right down the field."

On the first drive of the day for San Diego, Brees was a bit shaky. He locked onto David Boston but was slow in delivering the ball and the Chargers went three and out. The problem is Reche Caldwell was wide open in the middle of the field on the play that saw Brees throw it to Boston. Caldwell again saw the first team this week and Eric Parker was the third receiver in. Tim Dwight did not see the field until Doug Flutie took the helm. Dwight had the best day of any receiver as he caught four passes for 66 yards.

The first team defense played well for the Chargers. The unit played deep into the second quarter and allowed just a field goal to Tim Duncan after an unnecessary roughness call on Kwamie Lassiter that was hotly contested by Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer and the booing fans. Lassiter arrived just as the ball did and appeared to hit Steve Bush with his helmet as Bush went down. Bush left the game with a concussion.

The Chargers had a chance to go ahead in the game, just before halftime but Mackenzie Hoambrecker hit the right upright on his field goal attempt from 32 yards out.

In the third quarter the Chargers had a golden opportunity to score when Tony Okanlawon stripped Josh McCown of the ball and Omari Hand recovered the ball at the Arizona 29. Two sacks that cost the Bolts 18 yards pushed them out of field goal range.

The first touchdown of the day went to the Arizona defense. Seth Burford had his receivers running a double slant pattern to the inside and threw an ill-timed pass to the outside receiver. Justin Lucas read the play and stepped in for the interception. Lucas returned it 41 yards for a touchdown putting Arizona up 10-3.

"He threw it right in my chest," Lucas said.

After Mike Scifres kicked a gem that went out of bounds at the two-yard line, the Chargers were thinking safety and brought the house. Damion Anderson got the carry and took it left through a hole that Stephen Cooper could not close quick enough and whisked 82 yards downfield before Drayton Florence brought him down. The hustle by Florence cost the Cardinals as they settled for a Bill Gamatica 31 yard field goal to make the score 13-3.

Anderson also had a 24-yard run in the fourth quarter that put the Cards inside the 10-yard line. The defense held its ground and Arizona again had to settle for a field goal.

The only offense of the preseason has come from Grant Mattos who now has the only two touchdown receptions for the Chargers through two games, both coming in the fourth quarter. Mattos caught a 35 yarder from Cleo lemon with just over two minutes to go in the game. That tally marked the final score, 16-10. On the play Mattos ran a seam route to the end zone and baited the corner into thinking the pass was short when he slowed down about 10 yards upfield. After successfully getting the corner to slow down with him, Mattos turned on the burners and caught the pass over his shoulder. Heading towards the sidelines he held up two fingers signifying his two touchdowns in the preseason.

The offensive line in the second half was downright terrible. Seth Burford, Cleo lemon and Doug Flutie (in the first half) scampered often for their lives. The O-line allowed 8 sacks and numerous other pressures, resulting in a loss of 41 yards. Five of the sacks came while Burford was in the game. The first team offensive line did not allow a sack.

Notes:

Arizona defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch tore ligaments in his left knee and will have an MRI. Cornerback Michael Stone left with a concussion.

Chargers backup running back Jesse Chatman left with a concussion late in the first quarter. Linebacker Jude Waddy sprained his right foot.

Dahrran Diedrick had six rushes for 38 yards on the day and added three receptions for 30 yards. Diedrick is in a battle with Nick Maddox for the third running back spot. Maddox had 72 yards on ten carries a week ago.

The Chargers secondary allowed just 68 yards passing against, though the run defense allowed 213 yards, one of which went for 82 yards and another for 24 yards.

Quarterbacks continue to have success running the ball against the Chargers. The Cards QBs had seven rushes for 48 yards against the Bolts.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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