Chargers look to turnover history

Turnovers could be the key. The atrocity that is the San Diego Chargers when in Denver has a chance to rewrite history on Sunday. Over the last six games in Denver – dating back to Dec. 21, 1997, the Bolts have turned the ball over at least three times per game.

Think about the odds. The accountants' tally shows 11 fumbles and 11 interceptions during that time frame.

It is no surprise to see the record in those six games – 1-5.

Over the last 18 games between the teams, where the Chargers are 5-13, they have averaged 2.7 turnovers per game. In fact, they have turned the ball over at least once in all but two of those games.

For once, perhaps the Chargers are getting a break. The Broncos will be without Trevor Pryce, a perennial terror to the Chargers.

"That guy has caused us a lot of headaches," LaDainian Tomlinson said. "Obviously, I hope he recovers very quickly, but I'm not at all sad that he's not playing."

That is where the breaks end. From Champ Bailey in the secondary to the Mile High crowd threaten to suffocate the Bolts.

"It always seem like they play their best game of the season against us," Drew Brees said.

Brees has thrown three interceptions in his last two games versus Denver but has not been horrible. He has been forced to throw the ball a lot during three career games against them. Behind 20-3 in the second quarter of last year's game at Qualcomm, Brees had 41 attempts in an eventual 37-13 loss.

The quarterback went 26-of-42 in Denver during the '02 season but had two interceptions and could not help the Bolts punch it in during a 26-9 loss. He did, however, help them Bolts secure a victory at Qualcomm that season when he played mistake free ball and guided the Chargers to a 30-27 overtime win.

"If we bring our best game, it should be a solid match all the way around," Brees said. "The huge emphasis is ball security, as it is every week. Move the chains, be patient and take care of the football."

That has proved to be a constant. Take care of the football and odds are you will win. Coach Schottenheimer looked up the stats last week and found that over 95 percent of the teams that lost the turnover battle also lost the game this year.

No need to explain why the emphasis on ball control is a fuel to Schottenheimer. Giving the ball away feeds his fire and his ire.

"Mix the run and the pass," Marty Schottenheimer said of his gameplan. "A big play every once and a while."

Not rocket science here. Executing that plan versus a more talented squad is another story. A win in Denver could drastically change history and the future of this franchise. If not, the chants of S.O.C will continue to ring through the morning news.

Same Old Chargers.

Lightning quicks:

  • The Chargers will greet former defensive end Ray Lee Johnson on Sunday. Johnson played 11 seasons for the Bolts and racked up 46 sacks.

    "They were going younger and they wanted to go in a different direction and so did I, so it worked out for both of us," former defensive end Johnson said.

  • "I look at it like he's another player," Reche Caldwell told the North County Times in regards to Champ Bailey. "He can be beaten like anyone else. I don't care about all the hype about Champ Bailey."

    Caldwell, without a storied history, may have trouble backing up his words this week. And if he thinks it will be easy – read on.

    Bailey fires back:

    "How old is he? That's typical," Bailey told the Rocky Mountain News. "He's a competitor, and I wouldn't shy away from competition, either. "But at the same time, he better be prepared. I don't want to see you talk about what you want to do if you're not ready. You'd better be ready."

  • Remember screaming at the TV screen on Draft day 2003. "Pick Nick Eason" was the chant as the rounds went by. Now is the chance to get the wish. He was released from the Broncos practice squad this week.

  • Denis Savage can be reached at

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