Chargers Defense Pulls Out the Stops

Nine hundred and eighteen – just a number to some. In today's San Diego Chargers game against the Minnesota Vikings it was the number of total yards that both teams combined for in a 42-28 Bolt victory. The Chargers had 458 of those yards, meaning the Vikings actually had more yardage at 460. How did they manage to win then?

"Defensively we gave them yards, but we knew we would give them yards," Marty Schottenheimer said. "We made a decision that they are going to make yards, but we are going to force them to go the long route. They have a very, very explosive offense. We felt like we had to contain them to keep the big plays to a minimum. We were able to do that."

The long route was 70 plays for Minnesota.

"Bend don't break and the offense enabled us to do that," Schottenheimer added.

The Vikings also went 10-14 in third down opportunities and even one for one on fourth down. Daunte Culpepper passed for 370 yards in the air. Heck, they even had a 42 yard kickoff return. Moe Williams and Randy Moss had eleven receptions apiece. In fact, the 32 completions that Culpepper threw went an average of 11.6 yards per.

The case evidence is there. How did the Vikings not score more?

"We knew if we could take the ball away from them -- that would be a big plus," Schottenheimer said. "The most important thing is to not give it back to them. The thing that was big for us is we took the ball away twice."

One was on the Chargers four yard line, the other in the end zone. The difference in the game, fourteen points.

"Really the key to the defense for us was our rush. Now we didn't get there all the time, but we got good pressure on the quarterback and that was very encouraging.

"We succeeded in those areas. The result: a solid win."

Are they getting better? In a game like this it is hard to tell. The Vikings are explosive on offense and Schottenheimer does not seem to upset about the philosophy they employed, nor the results.

The maturation of the defense has come a long way since the beginning of the year. They were in position because of the offense. They made the big play when it counted. Schottenheimer harkens back to last year.

"We went in at the beginning and played man to man, that is what I like to do, play man to man. A year ago we played some zone and we had a lot of problems. So the intent when we came in this year was to play man to man. And we have played better playing zone. Although in this game we doubled Randy (Moss) a lot and let the other guys go play.

"This is an ongoing process for them."


"To me, Thursday has always been the best barometer of how you play on Sunday. I never had a Thursday that was good that didn't give us a good performance. We may not have always won. I told the players after practice Thursday that this was the best Thursday practice we have ever had." – Marty Schottenheimer

Denis Savage can be reached at

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