Miami 26, Chargers 10

Tempe- More than 55,000 people showed up to the free event at Sun Devil Stadium to see the San Diego Chargers, in their surrogate home of Tempe, Arizona lose to the Miami Dolphins, 26-10. With a National audience watching, they were thoroughly embarrassed. The matchup between LaDainian Tomlinson and Ricky Williams was but a quiet whisper as Brian Griese provided the first half offense in his first game as a Dolphin and the Miami defense provided the field position.

The fans didn't last through the game and neither did the Chargers.

Drew Brees, facing a third and two on the first series of the game, honed in on David Boston from the snap and threw to him on a slant route. Patrick Surtain jumped the route, not even looking to see where Boston went and came up with an easy interception at the 38. He was brought down 32 yards later by Eric Parker and Tim Dwight, not the first action of the game they envisioned.

Two plays later, Brian Griese hit Chris Chambers for a touchdown. It was the first pass by Griese as a Miami Dolphin and gave them a 7-0 lead with only 2:02 gone in the first quarter.

On the second series of the game for San Diego, Brees threw his second pick. This pick was not his fault. Screened by an official the ball went off the shoulder/helmet of LaDainian Tomlinson and went into the hands of Zack Thomas who took it back from the 43 to the 24. DeQuincy Scott came up with a big sack on third down, stunting to the outside to kill the drive. Miami settled for a 44 yard field goal and a 10-0 lead when Olindo Mare connected.

The San Diego Chargers finally got on the board with their third series from scrimmage. Steve Christie hit a 51 yard field goal, off the left upright and through to bring the Chargers within seven, 10-3. The play was setup by a third down and ten pass from Brees to Parker. Brees was under pressure and scrambled out left. Biding his time he found Parker crossing the field uncovered. Parker took it 23 yards before going down.

Miami got its first lengthy drive of the game with their third possession. The Dolphins took advantage of the Chargers defense playing off the line of scrimmage in man to man coverage and Griese hit four straight passes, covering fifty yards to put the team quickly in field goal range and two straight runs by Ricky Williams put the ball inside the ten, first and goal. Griese hit James McKnight in front of Jerry Wilson for the touchdown on his fifth consecutive completion of the quarter for the touchdown and 17-3 lead with 13:28 left in the second quarter.

Brees hit Boston in stride on a crossing route and Boston did the rest on their fourth possession. Boston took the ball, swung to the sidelines and broke tackles to go 28 yards. A swing pass and another pass to Boston for 12 eventually brought up fourth and three at the Miami 18. The Chargers took a timeout and decided to kick the 36 yard field goal, down by fourteen. The Chargers pulled a shift on the left side of their line with Michael Keathley and Carlos Polk, both eligible, and pulled the Dolphins offsides to get the first down. It was an unusual move by the Bolts and it worked. They would come away with nothing, now 4-15 scoring in the red zone, good for worst in the league. After two runs, Brees threw the ball behind a slanting Boston and Surtain again undercut the throw and picked the pass off in the end zone. Surtain now has six picks on the year, tied for the league lead.

The Dolphins took advantage. Griese hit Chris Chambers in the middle of a soft spot in zone defense and Kwamie Lassiter did a belly flop on an attempted tackle, not even touching the jersey of Chambers. Chambers went 49 yards and could have been down after a 15 yard gain. After a Ricky Williams run, Griese hit a wide open Randy McMichael between Jerry Wilson and Lassiter for a touchdown. Wilson got drawn in on play action and could not recover to cover McMichael as the Fins went up 24-3 with 1:55 to go in the first half.

A break finally came the Chargers way when Matt Turk took a high snap and chose not to punt the ball despite the Bolts not putting any pressure on the punt. Tim Dwight took a double reverse nine yards to put the ball at the 30. After a Tomlinson run, Tomlinson took a swing pass down to the 18 for another first. Three LT runs put the ball at the nine. On fourth and one, the Chargers tried a toss left and Tomlinson was snuffed out five yards deep in the backfield giving Miami the ball back and further breaking the Chargers backs. Boston had a terrible attempt at a block on the play, letting Surtain get past him untouched.

With good field position at their own 41, Brees marked off the longest run of the game, 18 yards to put the Bolts in Miami territory. A few Tomlinson runs put the ball inside the red zone for the third time on the day. A short run by LT, and an overthrow from Brees to an open Norman brought up third down. Tomlinson caught a pass over the middle and could not bring it past the five. On fourth down, Norman dropped a shovel pass with room to run and the Chargers again failed to come away with points. In the red zone three times thus far on the day, they came away with ZERO points.

Donnie Edwards then provided the Chargers with another spark. He forced a Williams fumble at the two yard line and Quentin Jammer recovered the ball for the fourth red zone opportunity on the day. Tomlinson finally punched one in for San Diego to make it a two touchdown game, 24-10.

At the twenty yard line, the Chargers ran three straight plays that lost yardage. The final play, a sack and forced fumble by Rod Burnett on Brees, led to a safety and 26-10 Dolphin lead, as Damion McIntosh recovered the ball in the end zone.

The game ended 26-10.


San Diego Chargers: OG David Brandt, DL Jacques Cesaire, C Jason Ball, LB Matt Wilhelm, DL Otis Leverette, TE Stephen Alexander, SS Vernon Fox.

Miami Dolphins: OG Billy Yates, DL Dario Romero, WR J.R. Tolver, RB Leonard Henry, OT Mark Dixon, DL Otis Grigsby, OG Taylor Whitley.

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