Chargers defense plugs in young playmakers

The Chargers have led in the fourth quarter in all eight games they have played this season. With the win on Sunday they moved to 4-4.

The Chargers defense did not allow a completion of more than ten yards in the first half and gave up just 35 passing yards, 30 net, and limited the Chiefs to one third down conversion in seven attempts. In the second half, Trent Green passed for over 300 yards.

Two rookies, Shawne Merriman and Marques Harris pressured Trent Green and forced an incompletion on third and seven late in the first quarter. Merriman got his sack in the third quarter, forcing a punt. It was the third sack of the year for the rookie. He later got his fourth sack and a forced fumble when he pushed a Chief lineman into Green, which caused the fumble, and continued to pursue when he lost his helmet.

"Merriman did a terrific job," said head coach Marty Schottenheimer. "He has some electricity. I am not sure all of it is put forth in positive ways but he is making excellent progress as a player. He is one of the few linebacker types that can power rush an offensive tackle and get a push."

Merriman became the first rookie since Chris Mims in 1993 to record two sacks in a game.

Another rookie, Luis Castillo was credited with a sack and a half, including one late in the fourth quarter with the Chiefs sitting on the two yard line on a third down. It pushed the Chiefs back to the eight and the Chargers defense came up big by stopping the drive when Kansas City went for it on fourth.

"I was able to make a huge play at a huge moment in time," Castillo said with a smile. You may recall it was Castillo who was flagged for two huge penalties in two separate games this year.

Castillo showed much stronger pursuit up the field than in week's past and was in the backfield with a half sack in the first quarter. The sacks were the first of his young career.

Shaun Phillips laid a lick on Priest Holmes in the third quarter, slamming him into the ground. The training staff had to come onto the field to check on Holmes. The star running back was able to get up off the field and appeared to have the wind knocked out of him but he never returned to the game.

Mike Scifres handled kickoffs on Sunday as Schottenheimer did not want to use Nate Kaeding who was ailing with a bad back.

The Chargers attempted to convert on fourth and four from the Chiefs 30 yard line but came up empty. The reasoning behind it was the status of Nate Kaeding's back. He sat out practice on Friday and head coach Marty Schottenheimer decided to play it conservative on the field goal end and aggressive in going for it.

The special teams' coverage wasn't at its finest. They allowed two returns of 50-plus yards. Dante Hall had a 53 yard kickoff return in the second quarter. He also added a 52-yard punt return to close the third quarter.

Kassim Osgood did make a great open field tackle on Hall to cut him down after the Bolts went up 28-13.

"You have to get on him before he gets going," said Osgood.

Osgood also recovered the onside kick attempt late in the fourth quarter.


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