Monday, January 7, 2008

Chargers find there are catches to winning in playoffs

The Tennessee Titans based their chances against the Chargers on stopping LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates in Sunday’s wild card playoff game.

That they did … but win they didn’t.

So why were the Chargers able to pull out a 17-6 victory for their first playoff win in 13 years?

Because once it was obvious Tomlinson couldn’t run (21 carries, 42 yards, 1 touchdown) and Gates (sprained left big toe) was injured in the second quarter, the Titans lost their game plan.

They had prepared so much for silencing Tomlinson and Gates that they forgot about San Diego wide receivers Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson.

Chambers had six receptions for 121 yards; Jackson made five receptions for 114 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter.

And once Jackson’s catch gave the Chargers a 10-6 lead, the game was over. It was obvious that Tennessee’s lame offense wasn’t going to score a touchdown if the game lasted until Friday.

"It's a relief, but at the same time, it's not like we're saying, 'OK, we won a playoff game, so let's get ready to lose,' you know what I mean?” Tomlinson said. “I'm already thinking about next week and how tough of a game we're going to have going to Indianapolis, facing the champs."

Yes, it’s going to get tougher for the Chargers. They have recorded seven straight wins – coming against five losing teams, along with two victories over Tennessee.

The Indianapolis Colts team they face on the road Sunday is the defending Super Bowl champion, mind you.

The Chargers have made a habit lately of being a strong second half team against weak teams. This week, they better play a strong first half or there may not be enough margin of error after halftime.

But at least the Colts learned one thing sitting on their collective couches Sunday: If you slow down Tomlinson and Gates, it might not be enough to beat the Chargers anymore.


kareem said...

The Chargers finallly after all season of trying have figured out how to win when the other teams stops Gates and LT. Chambers has the ability to be a great help to the Chargers in their playoff run. He has always had the potential to be a star in this league. Let's hope he lives up to it in Indy this Sunday.

sam said...

Nice column! Rivers just said on the radio that the Titans couldn't adjust to the Chargers new game plan when Gates was hurt. He basically said what you said.