Another ugly week passes

The San Diego Chargers didn't get embarrassed and that is surely an improvement over past Denver experiences. Looking at the individual play of some of the units left many wondering how they kept the game so close.


PASSING OFFENSE: F -- Drew Brees is walking on eggshells after another bad performance. He could convert but 14 of 29 for 121 yards. He missed on numerous chances when he open receivers, the biggest one being a wide open Tim Dwight over the middle -- it should have gone for a touchdown. The pass blocking wasn't great, either, as Brees was sacked four times. The day's best pass came from LaDainian Tomlinson, when he connected with Brees on a 38-yard pickup.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Little room for Tomlinson, has he collected but 60 yards on 22 carries. The Broncos were bent on stopping Tomlinson, and they did just that. The box was often stacked with eight or nine defenders, and the line could blast them off the line to give Tomlinson a lane here and there.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- Jake Plummer had a sensational day, and it came at the expense of the Chargers' secondary and pass rush. Sammy Davis was picked on with regularity; he could lose is job. Quentin Jammer allowed the key touchdown. The pass rush seldom got to Plummer, who was sacked but once.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- A highlight here! The run defense shut down the Broncos, as they could rush for but 37 yards. Quentin Griffin was stopped (12 carries, 7 yards) as the run defense met the challenge of facing the stout Denver offensive line. LB Donnie Edwards had a team-high eight tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- The kick coverage teams were no good; bad tackling mostly. But also the units were in position to down punts, but couldn't do the job. K rookie Nate Kaeding had two field goals, one a career-long of 51 yards. Tim Dwight continues to be productive returning kicks; he averaged 26 yards. Not much from Eric Parker on punt returns (12-yard average).

COACHING: D - Marty Schottenheimer's charges kept it close, something they haven't done in three previous trips to Denver. But the offensive staff needs to get more creative, or get another quarterback, as the offense is kaput. Until they can figure out a way to get some passing yards, rivals will continue to stack the line and dare Brees to beat them. In two of the three games, he hasn't proved he can do that.


PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Jake Plummer spread the ball out among his receivers, didn't make any major mistakes and took the offense on his shoulders in Sunday's win. Plummer once again showed off his ability to make plays out of the pocket, scrambling around before hitting Ashley Lelie on a 33-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-down play.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- The Broncos have never rushed for fewer yards in a game under Mike Shanahan than they did on Sunday. Quentin Griffin's 12-carry, 7-yard performance was the lowlight of Denver's 37-yard rushing performance. Griffin also lost a third fumble in three weeks, and looked tentative running the ball.

PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- The Broncos blitzed Drew Brees often because they knew cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Kelly Herndon could hold up in man-to-man coverage. The Broncos were fooled once on a pass by LaDainian Tomlinson to Brees, but when Brees was throwing the ball Denver didn't allow a pass of more than 17 yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Holding LaDainian Tomlinson under three yards a carry, as the Broncos did on Sunday, is commendable. They were rarely caught out of position, which Tomlinson thrives on because of his vision and ability to make plays in the open field. The Broncos also missed few tackles against the Chargers.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- The Broncos were much improved on special teams after a poor showing at Jacksonville. Reuben Droughns had a solid day returning kickoffs, which gave the Broncos good field position. Tim Dwight had some decent returns against Denver, but nothing that ended up hurting the Broncos.

COACHING: B -- The Broncos confused the Chargers early by spreading out the field and getting big gains with crossing patterns by their receivers. When it was apparent the Broncos couldn't run the ball, they put Plummer in position to make plays in the passing game. Mike Shanahan admitted he was bailed out when the Broncos went for it on fourth down and nine instead of trying a 50-yard field goal, because that play resulted in Lelie's touchdown.

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