WR Vincent Jackson (Scott Halleran/Getty)
Even with three fill-in quarterbacks under center, Norv Turner deployed the same strategy he does with Philip Rivers at the controls -- throw the ball to Vincent Jackson. The first-time Pro Bowler led all receivers with 122 yards on seven receptions as the AFC won a shootout, 41-34.
With Philip Rivers pulling out to be with his expecting wife and Nate Kaeding missing the game with a groin injury, the Chargers were left with four participants in Sunday's Pro Bowl game: WR Vincent Jackson, TE Antonio Gates, OG Kris Dielman and WR Kassim Osgood.
Jackson, who was initially named a third-alternate, made the biggest splash of the group. He caught seven passes for 122 yards (17.4 avg), including a 48-yard touchdown that tied the game at 24. He nearly hauled in another deep score earlier in the game, but the David Garrard offering was broken up in the end zone.
Jackson also showcased his physical presence with a thundering crack-back block on Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews; the block freed Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson to pick up 19 yards on a screen pass on a third-and-4. The AFC scored three plays later to take the lead for good.
Antonio Gates, who started the game because Dallas Clark is playing in the Super Bowl, also played a role in setting up the go-ahead score. Gates caught a 17-yard pass from Houston Texans QB Matt Schaub to bring the ball down to the 2-yard line; Johnson ran it in on the next play to make it 41-34.
Gates finished the game with three catches for 29 yards.
Even Kassim Osgood, voted into the game on special teams, contributed to the passing game by catching an 18-yard pass from Garrard. Osgood also showed his true reason for being in the game when he corralled punt returner DeSean Jackson late in the first quarter.
Kris Dielman came off the bench behind Alan Faneca and Logan Mankins to help drive an offense that piled up 517 total yards. Dielman played on the right and left sides of the line, although his task was made easier by the fact that the defensive linemen showed little interest in actually hitting the quarterbacks.
The entire quartet enjoyed playing with the familiar staff; Norv Turner & Co. earned the dubious honor by being the AFC team with the best record to be eliminated in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Turner made the most out of his weapons. He ran the option with Josh Cribbs; he called a designed run with Vince Young; and he used a flea flicker from Garrard to Jackson, which netted 18 yards.
What did you think of Jackson's performance? Talk about it in the message boards.