Chargers Report Card: Week 14
LB Matt Wilhelm (Doug Pensinger/Getty)
LB Matt Wilhelm (Doug Pensinger/Getty)

Posted Dec 11, 2007


Sunday's road win over the Titans was a microcosm of the Chargers' season -- a slow start followed by a surging finish. The Chargers are riding their second three-game winning streak of the season and could clinch the West this week.

PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Philip Rivers' numbers hardly scream for such a high grade: 21 of 40 for 228 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. But let's remember that he had 37 yards passing through the first three quarters before getting hot in the final 15 minutes and in overtime. In the fourth quarter, he was 11-for-19 for 149 yards and two touchdowns. When it counted -- and when he was hobbling on a strained knee -- Rivers played his best ball. Some clutch catches here by Chris Chambers to keep drives alive; Antonio Gates' game-tying score with nine seconds left came despite him playing with a bad back. The pass protection was horrible for the first three quarters, then Rivers got the time he needed. An amazing turnaround in this part of the game led to the win.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- LaDainian Tomlinson rumbled for 146 yards rushing and the game-winning score on 26 carries -- a nifty 5.6-yard average. The blocks were keen on the runs, especially as the game wore on and the Titans run defense started to wear out. And that was big in that Pro Bowl FB Lorenzo Neal wasn't around for the latter stages of the game after breaking his leg. The running game, since Pro Bowl C Nick Hardwick returned three games ago, is starting to get its 2006 swagger back.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- The pass rush was such that Titans QB Vince Young didn't make one significant play with his legs -- when was the last time that was done? Shawne Merriman continued his second-half push to the Pro Bowl with two more sacks. Those were the Chargers' only sacks, but don't overlook the pass rushers staying true to their lanes and keeping Young contained. Antonio Cromartie stole another pass for a franchise-tying, single-season total of nine. LB Matt Wilhelm had a critical third-down pass defense late when knocking down a pass with his arm. The third layer of the pass defense was playing well as the Titans' wideouts had only 57 yards on five catches.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The Titans' LenDale White got his 113 rushing yards, but it took him 30 carries to get there. Kudos to DE Jacques Cesaire (seven tackles), who played with a thumb that was operated on six days earlier. DE Igor Olshansky has been on a hot streak and he continued to play well with five tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- P Mike Scifres twice pinned down the Titans deep, once at the 2 and once at the 1, getting help from standout Kassim Osgood who hustled down. K Nate Kaeding had a 20-yard field goal and the biggest extra point of the season when tying the game with nine seconds left. Cromartie averaged 22.5 yards filling in on kick returns and rookie Craig Davis 14.7 yards on punts.

COACHING: A -- Norv Turner's team stayed the course as this game mimicked the Chargers' season -- start slow and finish strong. With three straight wins, the Chargers are playing their best ball of the season after playing three horrible quarters of football in Tennessee. But they got it right by not getting down and becoming too frustrated when things were going haywire. Give Turner credit for instilling in the team to keep playing although the results weren't what they had hoped for. Turner got roasted early on, so he deserves praise for not letting a team fracture after a 1-3 start, a team that has now won seven of its past nine games.



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C Nick Hardwick (profile)
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