For the second consecutive week the Chargers found themselves in the unenviable position of heading into an overtime period during a preseason game.
Fortunately, for the second consecutive week, that period didn't last long, thanks to Wade Richey, who kicked a 22-yard field goal to lift San Diego to a 13-10 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
The fact that the Chargers made the overtime period to begin with, was a matter of sheer luck.
The final play of regulation gave St. Louis the opportunity to walk away with the win, but a Jeff Wilkins' 19-yard field goal was erased by a holding call against Robert Holcombe. According to NFL rules, an offensive penalty on the final play of the game does not extend the time in regulation, so the final gun sounded and the teams met at midfield for the overtime coin toss.
After winning the coin toss San Diego took possession on its' own 21-yard line, where quarterback Drew Brees engineered a 78-yard drive, down to the Rams four yard line, where Richey sailed it straight through the uprights.
Brees, who finished the evening going 18-of-28 for 175 yards, rallied the Chargers in the final minutes with a 90-yard drive to tie the game at 10-10 with 3:10 remaining. On fourth down Brees connected with Steve Heiden, who out battled three Ram defenders, to secure the touchdown.
Nice drive, nice poise and nice execution, but the fact that it took almost four quarters of play before San Diego was able to score a touchdown does not exactly provide encouragement heading into next week's preseason finale.
The fact that the Charger defense held the Rams to only seven first half points does provide encouragement.
"Defensively I think we played pretty well," Chargers head coach Mike Riley told reporters. "We were containing them. They're going to score some points and move the ball, but I thought overall we were doing a pretty good job against them in the first half. To hold this team to one touchdown is a pretty good deal."
Doug Flutie, who was listed on Friday as questionable due to a hip flexor, was cleared to play just prior to game time, and finished with just over two quarters of play, connecting on 14-of-23 passes for 132-yards.
Not exactly stellar for a starting quarterback, but still miles ahead of the running game which, without top draft pick LaDanian Tomlinson, managed only 39 yards through the first three quarters.
The Chargers round out the 2001 preseason with a trip to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals next Friday night at Sun Devil Stadium. The game, scheduled for 7:00 pm PST, will be broadcast locally on KFMB.
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