Chargers at Falcons preview

Finally, the trade that sent two of the most high profile players in the NFL today will meet on the field. The Chargers traded the first overall pick, which turned out to be Michael Vick, for the fifth pick, bringing LaDainian Tomlinson to town, Tim Dwight, and two other picks.

Marty Ball vs. Mora Ball.

Only this type of "Marty Ball" comes through quick air strikes rather than the old time grind-it-out style that Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer became known for in his previous coaching spots.

The Chargers work on quick starts in practice. Last week, they got off to a 21-0 lead against Jacksonville in an eventual 34-21 victory. Quarterback Drew Brees threw six consecutive passes to open the game, and even premier running back LaDainian Tomlinson caught two passes before his first rush.

"Mora Ball"? That's the tough defensive attitude that new Falcons head coach Jim Mora has brought to the team. "I'll take good defense over good offense any day," says Mora. Atlanta's defense is ranked eighth overall in the league – after finishing last in 2003 – with its rush defense tops in the NFL.

Key matchup: Although they don't go against each other, this is the first time Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who Atlanta selected No. 1 overall in the 2001 NFL Draft with the choice they obtained from San Diego, faces Tomlinson, who the Chargers selected fifth overall with the Falcons' pick.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (3-2) AT ATLANTA FALCONS (4-1)
SERIES

  CHARGERS FALCONS
LEADER   5-1
STREAKS   Past 3
COACHES VS. OPP. Schottenheimer: 4-0 Mora: 0-0
LAST WEEK W 34-21 vs. Jaguars L 17-10 vs. Lions
LAST GAME 12/7/97: Falcons 14 at Chargers 3. Atlanta's defense forces 3 INTs & Byron Hanspard's 99-yard kickoff return sparks 5th win in 6 games.
LAST GAME AT SITE 11/6/94: Falcons 10, Chargers 9. Atlanta QB Jeff George & WR Terance Mathis team for game's only TD in the 1st quarter.
BROADCAST CBS (1:00 PM ET): Gus Johnson, Brent Jones

STATS

PASSING Brees: 72-118-893-8 (3C)-2-100.0 (3C) Vick: 65-108-801-2-3-77.7
RUSHING Tomlinson: 103-471-4.6-4 Dunn: 87-343-3.9-6 (T1L)
RECEIVING Gates (TE): 31(T2C)-342-11.0-3 (T3C) Crumpler (TE): 17-274-16.1-1
OFFENSE 328.8 303.6
TAKE/GIVE +3 +2
DEFENSE 360.4 293.2
SACKS Williams: 3.0 Kerney: 7.0 (T1L)
INTs 4 tied: 1 Beasley: 2
PUNTING Scifres: 43.2 Mohr: 43.1
KICKING Kaeding (R): 38 (T3C) (17/17 PAT; 7/7 FG) Feely: 32 (11/11 PAT; 7/7 FG)

NOTES

CLUBS MADE TRADE before ‘01 NFL Draft, including 1st-round pick swap – Falcons selected QB Michael Vick (No. 1) & Chargers took RB LaDainian Tomlinson (No. 5)…… CHARGERS: Aim for 3rd win in row. Head coach Marty Schottenheimer has never lost to Falcons (4-0). Team outscoring opponents in each qtr……QB Drew Brees ranks 3rd in AFC with 100.0 passer rating & 8 TDs. Has 126.6 rating in 4th quarter, 2nd-best mark in AFC. Has 5 TDs vs. 0 INTs in past 2……RB Tomlinson has 638 scrimmage yards (212.7 per game) & 6 TDs in past 3 vs. NFC (337 rec., 301 rush.). RB JESSE CHATMAN rushed for 103 yds on 11 carries (9.4 avg.) last week, including 41-yard TD…TE Antonio Gates leads AFC TEs in catches (31) & yds (342). Had 8 catches for 93 yds & 2 TDs last week. Leads NFL with 13 catches on 3rd down. WR-KR Tim Dwight played 3 years with Falcons (1998-2000)……DT Jamal Williams leads club w/ 3.0 sacks. Club ranks 5th in AFC with +3 turnover ratio. Four players have 1 INT each……FALCONS: Offense leads NFL in rushing, avg 158.0 yards per game. Defense allows 70.4 rush yards per game, fewest in NFL… Head coach Jim Mora spent 7 seasons with SD in pro prsnl dept (1985) & asst coach (1986-91)……QB Vick has 16-9-1 record as starter, including wins in 6 of past 7. Leads QBs with 251 rush yards. Has 3 career 100-yard games & needs 1 to tie Billy Kilmer (4) for most by QB……RB Warrick Dunn ties for NFL lead with 6 rushing TDs & needs 2 to tie career-high. Has 100-yard rush or rec. game in 2 of past 3 vs. AFC……WR Peerless Price has catch in 76 games in row. Has 17 catches (257 yards) in past 3 vs. SD (w/Buf). WR Brian Finneran has 110 catches with club since '01, 71.8 pct. for 1st downs (79 of 110). TE Alge Crumpler ranks 2nd among NFC TEs with 274 rec yards (17 catches).


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