Chargers Game Day Primer

Nine of the last ten games in the Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers series have been won by teams holding the lead at halftime.<br><br> The only exception was last year when KC led 17-7 and lost 35-34 at Qualcomm (10/13/02). In fact, that contest marked the only game under Marty Schottenheimer's tenure with the Bolts that San Diego has come back to win after trailing at halftime.

The Chargers own a 10-17 record under Marty Schottenheimer. San Diego has been tied or has led at halftime in nine of those 10 victories, posting a 9-3 record when tied or ahead after two quarters. The Chargers are 1-14 when trailing at halftime dating back to 2002, including an 0-8 mark this season.

Now they face a vastly different team than they played a year ago.

"They're capable of scoring anytime they have the ball," Schottenheimer said. "What we have to do is manage what we're doing. If we do, we can be competitive."

It is a sad day when the coaches' goal is to remain competitive. What happened to the days of wanting to win at any cost?

Is it that bad in San Diego where the coach is resigned to being satisfied with competitive?

"I'm willing to bet that the majority of guys see this as a great opportunity to erase a lot of negativity," said starter Doug Flutie. "I see it as an opportunity to go out and beat the best team in football right now and prove to ourselves that we can play at that level."

At least Flutie still has the fire. You have to wonder whether it is the coach who has quit or his players?

Flutie's counterpart, Trent Green, has attempted 156 consecutive passes without throwing an interception, the longest streak by a quarterback in the NFL. Green has not been picked off since Oakland's Phillip Buchanon got him Oct. 20. It's the first time Green has gone four straight games without an interception in his NFL career.

"He has unusual accuracy," Schottenheimer said.

"Trent is very effective because he takes advantage of the tools around him," RB Priest Holmes agreed. "He has a number of playmakers that are able to separate and open a game wide open. That is what Trent has around him and he is very successful in knowing that and he relies on us heavily and we make sure we do the right job."

The Chargers young secondary, hoping Green does not go five games without an interception, has been especially vulnerable in recent weeks, so look for the Chiefs to test corners Quentin Jammer and rookie Sammy Davis early. Rookie safety Terrence Kiel will be kept busy defending Priest Holmes as the eighth man in the box, so the Chiefs should get some one-on-one opportunities on the outside.

The Chargers' run defense was trampled for a whopping 225 yards last week, and now here comes Holmes, who rushed for 85 yards and added a game-high 98 receiving yards. Holmes, who was testing his mending hip in that opening game, made the Chargers pay with numerous cutbacks to offset San Diego's overly-aggressive run pursuit. Few players are as good -- or as quick -- as Holmes in reversing field and turning a big loss into a big gain. The Chargers swear their run defense has improved, but it's difficult to agree with that statement considering they have allowed 110, 201 and 225 yards in the last 3 games. It's imperative the tackles and linebackers stay true to their gap assignments, and that the safeties deliver so much-needed run support. If not, the Chargers are in for a long day.

"I never dreamed that it would be as difficult as it has been," Schottenheimer said.

LaDainian Tomlinson was held to 34 yards in the season-opening game at Arrowhead and the Chargers need him to have a big game to have a chance at "competing". Kansas City jumped out to a 24-0 first half lead then and eviscerated San Diego's offensive game plan. The Chargers need to be in the game at halftime and have a lead as shown by the alarming statistics this story opened with.

Everyone knows Tomlinson is the key to Graceland.

"He's got unbelievable physical skills," Schottenheimer said. "He's got the ability to go to full speed in one step."

Just as imperative will be the Flutie to David Boston connection. With the Chiefs challenging the Chargers to throw, Boston must exploit the 5-10 Dexter McCleon and slow-footed Eric Warfield. Without the ability to stretch the field, Tomlinson will have no chance to find running room.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

TE Tony Gonzalez vs. Chargers OLB Donnie Edwards.

This matchup has turned into a rout. Edwards has not allowed Gonzalez to get anything of substance going over the last three meetings. The two are good friends and Edwards holds the bragging right in the one on ones, while Gonzalez is on the winning side of the war. Gonzalez had only two receptions in the first meeting this year.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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