Drew Brees turned in another phenomenal performance on Sunday. He threw for a career high, took the game on his shoulders when the running game proved ineffective and continued his impressive no interception streak. Because the turf was flying up, the air attack became vital to their success. Brees was responsible for an 8-of-16 conversion rate on third down.
LaDainian Tomlinson had a tough time getting traction on Sunday. It clearly frustrated the back and he was visibly upset after a few missed opportunities hounded him and caused him to lose his footing. He was a force as a receiver and instead of trying to make cuts, turned into more of a power back and ran into people to get the extra couple of yards. It is a wonder he stayed healthy given the field conditions.
Keenan McCardell got called for two offensive pass interference penalties – one questionable – but two nonetheless. Luckily, the offense was clicking enough that it did not matter. Eric Parker came up with his first catch of the year that did not result in a first down – amazing. He also added two end-arounds that each resulted in huge plays. The "animal" needs to be fed the ball a bit more often. Kassim Osgood has been a beast after the catch. Last time out it was a touchdown that he got because of pure heart and on Sunday he turned NFL tacklers into children.
With Tony Gonzalez on the opposing sideline, Antonio Gates showed why he is the next superstar at his position. He caught one less pass than Gonzo but two more touchdowns. In terms of production, it is touchdowns that matter most. He has no equal at this stage and has a chance to be the most prolific tight end in the history of the NFL if he can muster up four more touchdowns in the next five games.
Penalties almost killed any quality play of the line. That aside, they continue to perform well in protection. Toniu Fonoti was uncharacteristically beat in pass protection, as was Roman Oben – but they only gave up one sack (another was nullified by a penalty) and kept the hounds off Brees for the most part. The push up front in the running game wasn't there and Nick Hardwick had a tough time fending off his man.
Trent Green certainly had the time to pick apart the defense. The line play was average at best. Given the strength of the offensive line they faced it was hard to expect more. What they didn't do was stop the running lanes. The line left wide gaps and couldn't close them enough for the linebackers to make plays.
Seeing Steve Foley get stopped dead in his tracks is a rare sight and telling to how good the line of KC is. Only when they faked with Foley and brought pressure from other places did they get pressure. Ben Leber didn't get close when he made his way upfield. He also had a tough time covering Gonzalez, as did anyone who got that unwanted job. Donnie Edwards came up with a huge interception late in the game that paved the way to victory. Kansas City wishes it had someone with his heart and intensity.
Drayton Florence stepped in for Sammy Davis and did a commendable job, as did the rest of the crew in the secondary. Only six passes were completed to wide receivers on the day, not bad from a group vilified much of the year.
Nate Kaeding frustrated the most ardent Charger fans on Sunday but came through in the clutch – a game winner. He was 2-for-4 on the day in field goals and his attempt at a tackle wasn't quite up to par. The kickoff coverage needs a kick in the rear and could have been responsible for a loss when the defense played well enough for them to win. Mike Scifres remains consistent, although he did take the heat for not properly laying down the 52 yard kick at halftime.
Sensing the playing conditions of the field, Marty Schottenheimer made a point to ensure the passing attack continued. Knowing his environment was a big plus on Sunday and he continues to make sure his team is ready for the pitfalls of the road and a winning streak. Wade Phillips did another excellent job in making halftime adjustments. Chunks of yards turned into small bites and that is saying something against the dangerous KC offense.
Chargers Report Card Week 12: Kansas City
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