Chargers hand out team awards

Drew Brees and Antonio Gates

On Monday, the San Diego Chargers handed out their team awards, as voted on by the players. Quarterback Drew Brees picked up honors for Chargers MVP and Most Inspirational Player, Antonio Gates won Offensive Player of the Year, Jamal Williams won Defensive Player of the Year and Best Lineman and Mike Scifres earned Special Teams Player of the Year.

It was a record-setting season for Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees. He tossed 27 touchdowns to just seven interceptions and his 104.8 passer rating was the highest in team history. His status was uncertain entering the year and he led the Bolts to a 12-4 mark despite the enormous pressure that he faced.

Antonio Gates capped his year by making it into the NFL record books. He caught 13 touchdown passes in a single-season, a new record for tight ends. He caught 81 passes and ranked second in the NFL with 30 catches on third down. He was named a starter on the Pro Bowl squad.

Jamal Williams quietly manned the middle of the Chargers 3-4 defense. Although he does not get the stats other players collected, he was instrumental to its success. Williams commanded double-teams and opened up lanes for his linebackers to make plays. The Chargers ended the year third against the run, thanks in large part to Williams' contribution. He also led all linemen with four sacks. Williams was voted a first alternate to the Pro Bowl squad.

Punter Mike Scifres finished second in the NFL with a 38.4-yard net punting average and was called "a weapon" often by head coach Marty Schottenheimer. His ability to pin the opposition deep and prevent returns was a big reason for the Chargers success in 2004. Only 23 of his 69 punts were returned, fewest in the league for players who punted in all 16 games, and 29 of his 69 punts landed inside the opponent's 20-yard line, the highest ratio in the NFL. Scifres also was voted a Pro Bowl first alternate.

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