The Chargers have been pedal to the medal since they lost to Atlanta in a harrowing loss. The results have been win after win after win. ">
The Chargers have been pedal to the medal since they lost to Atlanta in a harrowing loss. The results have been win after win after win. ">

The Final Analysis

"In the final analysis…" – Marty Schottenheimer any Monday morning during the season.<br><br> The Chargers have been pedal to the medal since they lost to Atlanta in a harrowing loss. The results have been win after win after win.

Chargers Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Drew Brees had a tough day, although he did throw for two touchdowns and 220 yards. But he had two interceptions, and that usually spells defeat for the Chargers. The receivers were true; Eric Parker had a career-day with six catches for 118 yards, which included a 79-yard touchdown. Antonio Gates only had one catch, as he's returned to earth the past two weeks. Pass-blocking was decent, although Brees did get sacked twice.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- LaDainian Tomlinson rumbled for a TD and 131 yards as he continues to show his sore groin has improved dramatically. What was really impressive was the run-blocking, especially the right side with tackle Shane Olivea and guard Mike Goff. The Bucs run defense isn't much, and the Chargers pretty much at their way with it. Lorenzo Neal was also a force, as usual, at fullback. But the real story is Tomlinson, and how he is getting fit just at the right time.

PASS DEFENSE: D- -- This unit did snag three interceptions, which helped turn the game. That being said, the pass defense gave up 392 yards and three touchdowns and continually gets burnt for big plays. The pass rush OK, and Steve Foley had a huge forced fumble late in the game which all but killed the Bucs' chances. Ben Leber and Jason Fisk were also able to get sacks. But the corners' play isn't getting much better as the season progresses.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- While the Chargers continue to have issues in their pass coverage, their run defense was as stingy as ever. The Bucs managed but 63 rushing yards. Jamal Williams and Jason Fisk were stout in the middle, which opened up tacking lanes for the linebackers. Donnie Edwards had a team-high 16 tackles, one week after recording 20.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- He's probably a year away from getting any Pro Bowl consideration, but P Mike Scifres continues to play at a high level. He had three punts downed inside the 20 and had a long of 50. Nate Kaeding missed from 51 yards, but nailed a 40-yarder late in the game. The coverage teams were fine; Jesse Chatman had a kickoff return of 35 yards.

COACHING: A -- Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron threw the Bucs a curve by leaning on the pass early, then switching to the run in the second half. And defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' unit keeps getting pounded as far as yardage, but when it absolutely has to make a big play, it usually comes through. And kudos to Marty Schottenheimer, who continues to preach the one-play-at-a-time mantra. It's corny, but the players are buying into it and that's all that counts.

Bucs Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- It's never a good thing when your quarterback has to throw 50 times, but it's nice when he can complete 70 percent of those passes. Rookie Michael Clayton (9 catches, 145 yards and 1 TD) and Joey Galloway (2 TDs) had big days as QB Brian Griese passed for 392 yards. But he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. Chargers LB Donnie Edwards returned an INT 30 yards for the game-winning TD with 4:09 remaining.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- The Bucs put too much pressure on their passing game, especially on the road. Bucs rushed for 63 yards on 18 carries and had 12 penalties for 111 yards, many of those coming on the offensive line.

PASSING DEFENSE: C-minus -- The Bucs had two interceptions of passes by Chargers QB Drew Brees and recorded two sacks. But each week, especially on the road, Tampa Bay's secondary gets burned for a big pass play. This time it was a 79-yard TD strike to Eric Parker.

RUSHING DEFENSE: D -- True, LaDainian Tomlinson arguably is the best running back in the NFL today. But that's no excuse for missing tackles and allowing yourself to be blocked. Tomlinson rushed for 131 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown. But S Dwight Smith stripped Tomlinson of the football, causing a fumble that led to the tying TD.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- The Bucs have missed eight field goal attempts on the road this season. No. 8 came Sunday after a tripping penalty wiped off a 20-yard FG by Jay Taylor. After the penalty, Taylor missed a 30-yard attempt. Instead of a 10-7 halftime lead, the Bucs trailed 14-7.

COACHING: D -- The Bucs are 5-5 over their last 10 games. They have lost 10 of their last 13 games on the road. Turnovers and penalties continue to be the culprits in losing close games.


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