Bolts Report Card

LB Shawne Merriman (Denis Poroy/AP)

The San Diego Chargers are a team on the upswing, and their GPA is on the rise as well. Outstanding performances by LaDainian Tomlinson and Shawne Merriman guaranteed solid marks on both sides of the ball.

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Philip Rivers wasn't asked to do much on a day in which the running game was clicking and the Chargers held a second-half lead. He completed 10 of 21 passes for 157 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Rivers threw a perfect scoring pass to Vincent Jackson, who got behind a secondary that was paying too much attention to Antonio Gates. Pass blocking was pretty good, although Jared Allen got after LT Marcus McNeill pretty good (two sacks) early in the game.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- LaDainian Tomlinson was back and in a big way. He rushed for 177 yards and two scores -- but the real news is the run blocking. With C Nick Hardwick knocking the rust off his game in his second game back after missing four with an injury, and Kris Dielman playing well at left guard, the holes presented to Tomlinson were numerous and substantial. Kudos, too, to FB Lorenzo Neal and his work at the point of attack.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- The pass rush was sensational, abusing the Chiefs' patched-up offensive line and having a field day with the statue-like Damon Huard. The Chargers had eight sacks, including three by Shawne Merriman. Shaun Phillips, who plays opposite Merriman, had 1.5 sacks. The pass defense was solid, save the work on TE Tony Gonzalez, who went for 10 catches and 140 yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus -- The Chiefs were pretty much stymied in their running game, although Kolby Smith did average 4.0 yards on his 21 carries. But DT Jamal Williams was stout in the middle and the inside linebackers, Stephen Cooper and Matt Wilhelm, were sure in their tackling. The Chiefs abandoned the running game once they fell behind in the second half.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- K Nate Kaeding was wide right from 45 yards, although it was a windy, blustery day at Arrowhead. P Mike Scifres' net average was just 33.6 yards. The coverage teams were right-on and Eddie Kennison did have a 21-yard punt return. Nothing much from the Chargers' return game.

COACHING: A -- Norv Turner is learning to lean on the run more as Tomlinson carried it 23 times for 177 yards and two scores. That's a good sign -- as was the play from the offensive line. It also seemed the defense, under coordinator Ted Cottrell, was more aggressive and more active. That's another good sign the Chargers are getting back to what they do best. Turner gets a bow as he beat the Chiefs for the first time in seven tries.

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