Streaking Bolts Show No Signs of Letting Up
QB Philip Rivers (Jeff Gross/Getty)
QB Philip Rivers (Jeff Gross/Getty)

Posted Dec 29, 2009


The streaking Chargers aren't showing any signs of letting up. Win No. 10 in a row came Friday as the Chargers thumped the Titans, 42-17.

"Our guys are playing with great confidence right now," coach Norv Turner said. "That's why you are able to do what you do."

Strangely, this streak feels nothing like one, according to Turner.

"One thing I will say about the run of 10 is that I don't think our guys feel like they're on such a streak," he said. "I believe they feel they've won 10 games one at a time. I know it's cliche, but that's what they've done and that's probably the thing I'm proudest of."

The Chargers can puff out their chest over reaching 12-3 after losing three of their first five games. That rut seems like eons ago as the team's latest triumph clinched the AFC's No. 2 seed.

With that comes a week off during the playoffs' first round and a home game in the divisional round.

"We've done all we can do in terms of positioning ourselves for the playoffs, but there's no need to pat ourselves on the back just yet," said quarterback Philip Rivers, who continues to play at an MVP level. "We all know that what you do in the playoffs matters a lot more than what you do in the regular season."


LaDainian Tomlinson
Wade Payne/Getty
But Friday's conquest meant a lot in that the Chargers won two games in a week, the second coming off a short week in which they had to travel three time zones away.

The Chargers, though, didn't blink in winning their record-tying 18th straight December game.

"To win like this coming off a short week, playing on the road and spending Christmas away from our families really shows the maturity and the chemistry we've built," Chargers free safety Eric Weddle said. "We put on a great performance. I thought this game was going to be a battle, but we just imposed our will on these guys."

Now the Chargers get to do what most other guys are doing this weekend - put their feet up and watch some football. The team is off three of the next four days before ending the regular-season a week from Sunday against the visiting Redskins.

NOTES, QUOTES

--C Nick Hardwick returned to game action for the first time since injuring his ankle in the season opener.

"It just felt good to be part of this again, to be part of a group that's been preparing the way they have," he said. "It was a good night."

QB Philip Rivers said having the carefree Hardwick in the huddle and then barking out blocking assignments on the line was a welcomed sight.

"He really gets guys going," Rivers said. "It was great to see him back out there. There is nobody that loves it any more, cares about it any more than he does."

--Home for the holiday? Rivers was, as he grew up some 90 miles from Nashville in Decatur, Ala., and that meant the relatives made the trek to Friday's game. Rivers left 70 tickets for the clan.

"I had just about every family member on both my side and my wife's side at this game," Rivers said. "It was a lot of fun. It felt in some ways like I was in my own backyard. As the lead grew, you could hear the Chargers fans. It was really great to play in front of so many family members."

--The Chargers did something this year which has never been done in the franchise's previous 49 season - won seven games on the road. "We wanted to become a real good road team," coach Norv Turner said of the team's 7-1 mark. "These guys have done a great job when we've asked them to prepare." That success on the road as meant the Chargers won't be traveling - or playing - during the playoffs first week as they earned a bye as the No. 2 seed.

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Philip Rivers sped past 4,000 passing yards for the second consecutive season and set his career best with Friday's performance, giving him 4,155 yards with another game remaining.

--TE Antonio Gates established a career high in receiving yards. Gates finished with three receptions for 74 yards Friday, leaving him with 1,145 on the season. Gates' touchdown catch was the 58th of his career, moving him into a tie for second place with Gary Garrison on the franchise's list for career receiving touchdowns.

--WR Vincent Jackson set a career best in receiving with his first catch Friday. He had five receptions for 70 yards, and has 1,167 for the season.

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson notched his 137th and 138th rushing touchdowns, setting an NFL record for most rushing scores in a single decade. The previous mark was set by Emmitt Smith, who scored 136 rushing TDs in the 1990s.

--RT Jon Runyan saw his most extended playing time of the season in Friday's blow out.

--DE Jacques Cesaire (elbow) wasn't able to play and could be rested one more week.

REPORT CARD VS. TITANS

PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus - Philip Rivers' numbers could have been even more impressive if not just missing on two touchdown tosses. That said, he completed 21-of-27 attempts for 264 yards and two touchdowns. He was pretty much on the mark, as was the pass protection. Backup Billy Volek started the fourth quarter and finished the game.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- LaDainian Tomlinson collects two more rushing touchdowns; Darren Sproles adds two on the ground as well as the Chargers pile up 166 yards in rushing. The run-blocking, with Pro Bowl C Nick Hardwick back in action, had a purpose. RG Louis Vasquez continues to be spot-on in his rookie year.

PASS DEFENSE: A - One of the best efforts of the season as Eric Weddle had a critical third-quarter interception and the corner play of Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer was of the blanket variety. Big forced fumble from Shaun Phillips as he stripped Vince Young of the ball - it's Phillips' franchise-record seventh forced fumble of the year.

RUSH DEFENSE: C - Chris Johnson got 142 yards but he wasn't able to control the game with any consistency. With DE Jacques Cesaire (elbow) unable to go, the line held up pretty well - DT Ian Scott was solid.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C - The return game still isn't where it needs to be and getting that turned around will be a point of emphasis going forward. The kicking game wasn't asked to do much with the dominating offense hogging the scoring opportunities. Coverage units were fine.

COACHING: A - To win seven games on the road is a testament to a coach who has his team ready away from home - Norv Turner deserves credit for just that. The Chargers were bent on scoring a lot, which helped neutralize the Titans' running game. Ron Rivera continues to patch together a defense - i.e., the defensive line - which is drawing him rave reviews inside and outside the locker room.



Related Stories
Who Will Toe the Line Against the Titans?
 -by SDBoltReport.com  Dec 21, 2009
Five to Watch: All Eyes on San Diego's Lines
 -by SDBoltReport.com  Sep 19, 2009
Postgame Q&A with Chargers C Nick Hardwick
 -by SDBoltReport.com  Sep 15, 2009

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