Chargers even up in 31-15 win over Niners

The San Diego Chargers starting unit fumbled to begin the game but came back strong on defense and saw Drew Brees go perfect on the day. Philip Rivers had a role reversal this game. His first three plays were busts and he came back to complete 13 straight as the battling quarterbacks, along with an unforgiving defense, led the team to a 31-15 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

The Chargers first drive of the game began at their two yard line. After a short run, Jesse Chatman busted through the line, starting from the Chargers five yard line. As he passed the 35 the ball was popped free by Mike Rumph as Chatman fall to the ground and San Francisco recovered the ball. The play was challenged by the Chargers, contending that Chatman's knee was down before the fumble, but the play was upheld with the Niners getting the ball at the 37.

A Jamar Fletcher holding call extended the Niners drive and gave them a first down. On the ensuing play Ben Leber clocked Tim Rattay and caused a fumble. Randall Godfrey booted the ball trying to pick it up while Terrence Kiel fielded it cleanly and began to take it the other way before being tackled at the San Francisco 47 yard line.

The Chargers rode Chatman, using five runs, with two short passes mixed in to get into first and goal. Two more runs by Chatman traversed seven yards and put the Chargers up 7-0.

The Niners struck quickly. Tim Rattay hit three passes, one for nine yards, another for 15 and the final one went 41 yards to Brandon Lloyd over the outstretched arms of Drayton Florence for the touchdown. A missed extra point from Todd Peterson put the score at 7-6.

Drew Brees threw two passes to Reche Caldwell for 22 yards, used Michael Turner three times for 13 yards before Brees hooked up with Eric Parker on a 35 yard touchdown pass to put the Chargers back up 14-6. Brees squeezed a beautiful pass between coverage to a streaking Parker who caught it in stride for the score.

Zeke Moreno forced a fumble on the Niners next possession, bringing it back to the San Fran 26. It brought on the first sighting of Philip Rivers. Rivers was sacked on his first drop back and Turner lost three on his next touch which put the Chargers back. A draw play got a chunk of yardage and the Chargers settled for a 39 yard Nate Kaeding field goal.

After Drayton Florence missed an interception, the Niners punted. Wes Welker was back deep and the man who does not fair catch found out what it means to be in the NFL. With players bearing down on him he again did not call for the fair catch and paid for it by fumbling when he got hit. The Niners came back and quickly threw a touchdown to Rashaun Woods but it was called back by an illegal shift. Arnez Battle caught the next touchdown pass but that too was called back by a holding call. The Niners got a third touchdown when Aaron Walker caught a pass in the back of the end zone, somehow getting his feet in bounds on the catch. The play was called back on a tripping call. Lloyd made a heck of a play to put the ball close on a third and long and on fourth and inches the Niners went for it. They got the yard but had to settle for a field goal, 17-9 Chargers.

Ken Dorsey went 6-for-7 on the drive with three touchdown passes before the Niners punched it in for real the fourth time, although none of his stats counted and don't and won't reflect it in the boxscore.

Philip Rivers threw an interception that was picked off by Jimmy Williams and returned to the two yard line. Jamal Robertson took it over the top for the touchdown two plays later. The Niners closed with two, 17-15, but failed on the two point conversion.

Rivers led a 16 play drive that lasted over ten minutes to open the third quarter for the Chargers. He went 8-8 for 43 yards and the drive was capped by a Michael Turner touchdown run from two yards out to give them a 23-15 lead.

Mike Scifres boomed a 58 yard punt which Battle muffed and Howard Hodges jumped on at the San Fran 23. Rivers followed it up with his first NFL touchdown pass, sending a slider down and away to Kevin Dyson where only he could make a play on the ball in the front of the end zone with three Niners around his back. It put the Chargers up 30-15. Ken Dorsey moved the ball quickly down the field, going 5-for-6 for 66 yards to put the ball on the Chargers four yard line. The Bolts stoned the Niners at the four and San Fran went for it. Dorsey threw the ball to Adam Herzing and Robb Butler smacked him in the back as he was about to make the catch. The hit knocked Herzing out of the end zone as he caught it falling down. With Butler all over him it came up just shy of the goalline. Turnover on downs.

The Niners had one last chance to score from inside the five with eight seconds to go but the Chargers entire second team defense was all over the play and killed the back well short of the end zone as time expired.

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