Chargers Recoup After Costly Win
LB Shaun Phillips (Ezra Shaw/Getty)
LB Shaun Phillips (Ezra Shaw/Getty)

Posted Sep 16, 2009
scout.com


The Chargers escaped Oakland with a season-opening win, and escape is the correct word.

After playing poorly for nearly three quarters and allowing a long touchdown pass with less than three minutes remaining, the Chargers pulled out an unlikely victory.

"It's good any time you win in this league - they are hard to come by especially at the wire," linebacker Shaun Phillips said.

"It doesn't matter if you win by 40 or win by three points. Everybody is predicting the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl and they won by one over the Buffalo Bills. Is that New England football?"

Was that Chargers football we saw as they played down to the Raiders' level?

"Chargers football is winning football," Phillips said. "And we won."

But the win was costly.

Right guard Louis Vasquez, center Nick Hardwick and linebacker Antwan Applewhite all left the game with injuries.

The Chargers are going to likely have to fill some holes before entertaining the Ravens on Sunday.

They also have to entertain the notion that the way they played Monday night will not get them where they want to go: to the second Super Bowl in franchise history.

"We got to have a faster start and do little things right," linebacker Shawne Merriman said. "Play the run better and get off the field as a defense because ultimately that is going to be the key to us winning."

Merriman was also watched closely as he returns from a serious knee injury which cost him all but one game last year. And while Merriman played a substantial chunk of the game, he didn't look as quick in chasing down quarterbacks.


QB Philip Rivers
Ezra Shaw/Getty
Now the Chargers have to chase that bad taste of a so-so, but winning, effort behind them.

Once again, they got to prove they can bounce back, something coach Norv Turner said they always seem to do.

"I can't say enough to the way our guys responded to everything that happens and obviously even after a touchdown that gave them the lead we put together a 89-yard drive and a lot of guys contributed to that drive."

None more so than Philip Rivers, who was 6-of-7 for 79 yards.

"People talk about quarterbacks who handle pressure and resiliency and lead teams from behind," Rivers said. "I don't know that I would want anyone else doing it."

NOTES, QUOTES

-- OLB Shaun Phillips wasn't apologizing for the win - despite how poorly the team played. "It doesn't matter if you win by 40 or three points," Phillips said.

-- Coach Norv Turner was amazed how many Chargers kept going down with injuries. "I don't know if I have been in a game where as many guys had to come out," he said.

-- The Chargers have a short week and they will likely be a rash of tryouts to fill some spots. The team is very thin along the defensive and offensive lines.

-- The Chargers now have two home games against the Ravens and Dolphins before heading back out on the road against the Super Bowl champion Steelers. The Steelers eliminated the Chargers in last season's playoffs.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We dealt with a little adversity. When things weren't going well, we kept our focus and pulled it out. It wasn't pretty, but in this league, a win is a win." - Tight end Antonio Gates.

PLAYER NOTES


LB Antwan Applewhite
Ezra Shaw/Getty
--DE Luis Castillo (arm) is day-to-day but he finished the game. It appears he will be OK for Sunday.

-- RB LaDainian Tomlinson tweaked his ankle and was held out down the stretch.

-- C Nick Hardwick (knee) was hurt during the game and it could turn out to be serious. He left the game on a cart.

-- LG Louis Vasquez (knee) went out of the game with a leg injury and will be evaluated this week.

-- DT Jamal Williams (arm) was hurt but he finished the game and should be fine.

-- OLB Antwan Applewhite (hamstring) was hurt in the game and didn't return. This will be worth watching, especially on a short week.

REPORT CARD VS. RAIDERS

PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Philip Rivers rallied from a so-so start and led the team on two fourth-quarter drives to for the victory. Rivers threw for 252 yards and a score and was intercepted once. Credit to him for staying the course when the offense had trouble early.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- The Chargers finished with 77 yards, and much of those came on the runner's ability to move rather than big holes. The Chargers were down two starting linemen and it showed - although when the starting five was out there to begin the game the production was no better. LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for a touchdown, but he gave way to Darren Sproles in critical junctures of the game.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- Lucky, oh let us count the ways. Nursing a lead and the Raiders staring at a fourth-and 14, SS Clinton Hart and CB Antonio Cromartie got twisted around the wrong way on coverage and the result was a 57-yard touchdown reception. A good secondary doesn't let someone get behind - or screw up the coverage - with that at stake.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- The Raiders racked up 148 yards and it was painful to watch - these weren't eye-popping moves being delivered by the Raiders runners. Instead it was them blasting through huge holes, as the Chargers defense time and again got its doors blown off. This was among the most disappointing aspects of the game for the Chargers.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- With the Chargers' offense struggling, it was up to the special teams to find those hidden yards. Darren Sproles answered the call and he averaged 34 yards on five kickoff returns, with a long of 66. K Nate Kaeding was good on a tough, 47-yarder off the infield dirt and P Mike Scifres had a long of 65.

COACHING: C -- Norv Turner's team was lucky to escape with a victory here. And while winning is job No. 1 of any coach and team, something wasn't right here from the get-go as the Chargers didn't look anything like a Super Bowl-caliber team. Turner didn't panic, but he has to be concerned about the lackadaisical play and execution.



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