The "Home" Crowd

The San Diego Chargers went into Arizona for their "home" game. The end zones were painted over with the word ‘Chargers' and some fans even made the trip from California to see their team play on Monday night. What they encountered was not a home game, and the focus they were supposed to show was burnt away.

"We were concerned (with our focus)," said Miami Coach Dave Wannstedt.

They didn't need to be. Miami's offense played off their defense and capitalized on every turnover they created. Despite having to alter their travel plans, the team came ready to play.

"The difference in the game would probably be the focus of both teams. The focus had been to stop the run," said Wannstedt. "That is the strength of their offense. The most incredible thing about the performance was Tomlinson's longest run from scrimmage was eight yards. That is tough to do against a great player."

LaDainian Tomlinson was negated by a staunch defense and an ineffective offensive line. His biggest contributions came as a receiver, although he tried his hardest to get some extra yards when there was no room to maneuver.

The Dolphins wanted Drew Brees to beat him. The plan worked as Brees proved to be nothing more than desert air.

Brees was inaccurate on the day and Miami was in position to make plays. When he dumped the ball off, the Miami defense swarmed and made their tackles.

"The focus and the tackling of our players, added Wannstedt. "There was some concern earlier about missed tackles, the emphasis we put on it, that is why we practice because you can get better."

The Chargers have practiced all season to get better – the result, 1-6. The defense is admittedly improved, but Brees only got the ball to two receivers yesterday. Versatility and more options to cover would help this stagnation. Tim Dwight has not seen a ball since last year. Maybe they just can't see each other over the offensive line.

Compounding matters was the crowd. Wannstedt was asked if the Sun Devil Stadium crowd made it feel like a home game:

"Oh yeah," said Wannstedt. "The crowd was enthusiastic, it was unbelievable. They started screaming and they did not stop until the final whistle. It was kind of neat."

The Chargers, despite what you will find reported, dropped to 1-4 on the road and have been shorted a Qualcomm game this year, not that it matters. They are 0-2 back in San Diego.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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