Chargers relentless with gameplan

The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders were separated by seven points at the end of the first half. But the Chargers imposed their will on their rival in the third quarter and pulled away to an easy victory.

That meant the balanced attack continued and the Bolts took the ten yard underneath routes, never trying to stretch the field since Oakland played with safety help over the top to prevent the big play.

There were dinks and there were dunks – enough to make a donut shop.

But in the second half, the Chargers rattled off a 13-play, 72-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown and a ten-play, 51-yard drive that ended in a field goal. It also took 13 minutes and 31 seconds off the clock – nearly the whole third quarter.

With a comfortable lead, the Chargers were able to run the ball more, a little less balanced than the 12 pass/17 rush combination they used in the first half.

With one pass over 20 yards, the Chargers managed the down and distance, converting a few key third downs along the way.

"We just kept sticking to what we did best," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said.

"The Raiders came in with the same defense the Redskins did," quarterback Drew Brees said. "They were going to pressure, play soft, not give up any big plays so we came out today and played patient and the results were good."

Brees' patience was rewarded as he completed 77.3 percent of his passes on the day, throwing two touchdowns.

He never tried to force the play and was happy to take the checkdowns. Eleven of his 17 completions came in the 0-10 yard area but they converted 8-of-14 third down conversions.

While the Chargers' offense slowly pounded the Raiders into a submission Royce Gracie would be proud of, the defense exerted themselves in the second half, bringing more pressure and pitching a second half shutout.

The first three drives for Oakland spanned ten plays – and that includes the punt that wasn't. In other words, the Chargers did not allow a single first down and gave up nine yards total over those three drives – if you can even call them that.

"When you are getting them three and out, that is generally how you like to operate," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said.

"We knew if we could just keep pounding on them they would fold," said safety Clinton Hart. "They played tough early on but we knew if we kept banging on them we would come out on top."

It was one of their better team efforts of the year, especially since the domination took so long to take its hold.

They are 5-0 in their new season, as dictated by head coach Marty Schottenheimer with Miami up next.

"We moved them out of the way and we will move on to the next thing," said linebacker Shawne Merriman.

At 8-4, the Bolts are in the driver's seat. They can seal their own playoff fate over the next few weeks and don't need anyone to help them in – as it appeared they would a world away when they were 3-4. They were the best 3-4 team than and appear to be the best 8-4 team now.


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