Home run hitters of the gridiron

Big plays have clearly been the defining characteristic of the San Diego Chargers. For the first time in over a month, they played from behind and were equally adept at turning a loss into a win as they have been preserving the lead.

There were so many turning points and lucky breaks on Sunday that it has become tough to argue the destiny.

There is talk of the football gods smiling down on the Lightning Bolts for the misery of a lifetime.

Truth is the Chargers continually make the big play when other teams drop – literally – the ball.

In their win against the Chiefs, the Chargers had ten offensive plays that went 15 yards or more and seven that went 20 yards or more.

The Chargers defense held the Chiefs offense without a first down on four of their five possessions in the second half.

Drew Brees led his team to a fifty percent mark on third down, converting 8-of-16. It led to a ten minute advantage in time of possession and the best defense is keeping the opposing offense off the field.

"The only way you can beat them is to control the football," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. And they accomplished that predominantly through the air.

Then there was the interception by Donnie Edwards that eventually paved the way to victory. But before the play was the sideline banter between coach and linebacker and player and teammates.

Edwards said on Monday that he called the play from the sidelines.

"I was telling some guys on the team, ‘It is coming. I am about to get one right now.' I didn't know I was going to get one but saying it was pretty nice. ‘Time to get a big turnover, I owe you guys one.'

That isn't all that went on before the Chargers defense went onto the field to defend the Chiefs offense and ultimately the game.

"I have been trying to get him to drop deeper in his zones," said Schottenheimer. "I said something to him right before he went onto the field. When you are a coach and you tell a player that and it works you always feel good."

The interception came on third down and 11 at the Chiefs 34. With time winding down on the game, Trent Green tried to thread a pass between three defenders.

Edwards drifted back and plucked the ball out of the air for the interception.

"They ran a route that I practiced," Edwards explained. "I understood it. I was pretty deep, about 25 yards deep. Coach Schottenheimer has been on me about getting deep the whole entire season because I have been around a lot of balls and have been tipping a lot. I got back with just the right depth and came up with the grab."

And the big plays kept coming. Nate Kaeding nailed a 42 yarder after missing two kicks earlier in the game and booting a kickoff out of bounds.

"Just keep fighting through it," the kicker replied of his and the teams mentality.

And that has been the attitude of the team. They continue to fight and claw through the tough times and take advantage of whatever opportunities present themselves.

On the Chiefs' final drive, Quentin Jammer and Terrence Kiel each got a hand on a ball to seal the game and the victory. Big plays when they have needed them most has been the motto of this team since they let one slip away in Atlanta.

To Hall with that

  • "I don't want to run one way and have the ball come out like Dante Hall," Edwards said when asked why he went to the ground before being tackled.

  • Denis Savage can be reached at denis@sandiegosports.net

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