"We just felt like we had to be aggressive," defensive coordinator Jim Johnston said. "We had to come up with a couple of things to say, ‘Hey, we're going to pressure them. We're going to put more pressure on them. We're going to try and stop Tomlinson on 1st and 2nd down, get them in 3rd and long and put some pressure on them. Simple as that.'"
Bob Hallen proved ineffective at the pivot, particularly in calling out the blocking assignments and each linemen had their share of troubles.
It amounted to a day to forget for the running game and a lot of pressure on Drew Brees in the passing game.
The output in the first half amounted to negative five yards rushing on six carries. The ledger read negative nine yards rushing with nine minutes to go in the third quarter.
Even as late as thirteen minutes to go in the game, Tomlinson was in the red at negative five yards rushing. Carry number 12 put Tomlinson's rushing tally at zero yards net for the day.
He went into the red one more time before finally crossing into the positive with three and a half to go in the game.
"Its been a while since I was held like that," said Tomlinson. Like never.
The Chargers back has been held to 40 yards or less just six times in 71 games and the closest he has ever come to this debacle was a 29-yard game against Denver in November of 2003. He had just eight carries that day, nine fewer than on Sunday.
"They played a six man line the way they bring the linebackers and safeties," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "We did a good job through the season not having negative plays. You have to give credit to them. They did a great job of closing the running lanes." Brees actually led the Chargers in rushing with nine yards and it took him just one carry to get there.
The running lanes simply weren't there.
"If you have everyone blocking up front but there is one guy who misses a block the run will go for nothing," said Hallen.
"They got in the backfield and really controlled the line of scrimmage," Tomlinson admitted. "They did a good job of containing what we did."
And the blocking up front made it even easier. Lorenzo Neal missed a few blocks. Mike Goff whiffed on several attempts. Shane Olivea looked slow out of his stance. Roman Oben a shell of himself after getting banged up in the first quarter.
It was ugly. And it was the type of defense that Dallas and Denver brought early in the year to stifle the lanes. And thus far it has been the copied gameplan for beating the Chargers.