Chargers-Titans: Bolts Win with Hard-Hitting Finesse

Ian PhilipAnalyst IIIJanuary 6, 2008

The San Diego Chargers notched a rousing win on Sunday after dominating the second half of their first-round playoff battle with the Tennessee Titans.

The game followed the script from the teams' first meeting of the season: The Titans controlled the line of scrimmage until LaDainian Tomlinson got his 21st carry—then it was the Chargers' turn to dominate the trenches.

When San Diego switched to max protection and started throwing deep on Tennessee, the Titans were caught utterly off guard. Because San Diego kept running the ball, the Titans were determined to keep eight or nine men in the box.

Mistake!

With so many men near the line of scrimmage—and with Kyle Vanden Bosch and Co. failing to get anywhere near Philip Rivers—San Diego receivers Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers had ample time to beat the Titans’ cornerbacks for big yardage.

The Titans must have liked their chances when Antonio Gates went down with a toe injury. In fact, though, Gates' injury may have been the biggest reason why the Chargers won.

Without Gates, Rivers HAD to use Vincent Jackson—and at 6’5” and 237 pounds with 4.4 speed and a 39” vertical, Vinny Jack is a beast.

There was no way a 5’10” cornerback was going to beat Jackson to a ball in one-on-one coverage. Rivers hasn’t thrown the ball downfield with so much authority since he led the Bolts to 42 second half points against the Cincinnati Bengals.

And as big a mistake as people said it was for the Chargers to have traded for Chambers, it sure does look like a steal now.

You would have never guessed that Chambers was playing his first playoff game.  Although he allowed Courtland Finnegan to pick off a pass he had no business getting his mitts on, Chambers more than made up for it with a number of big plays.

If the Chargers had it to do all over again, they'd pick up Chambers in a heartbeat. Then again, if they had it to do over again, they would have never let Marty Schottenheimer cut Wes Welker in the first place.

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