Charges lose; playoff chances murkier

At home, facing a team that came in with a 5-7 record, the Chargers seemed poised to run their record to 9-4 but Miami wouldn't abide, taking over the second half with 20 points scored to win, 23-21. Three of the Chargers five losses have come at Qualcomm this year. They went 7-1 at home during their 12-4 2004 season.

Gus Frerotte hit Chris Chambers on a 34-yard completion to open the second half for Miami. It led to a second field goal from Olinde Mare, making the score 7-6.

On the ensuing kickoff, Darren Sproles fumbled the rock when he was hit by a teammate, Andrew Pinnock, and Mare recovered at the San Diego 24. Three plays later, Frerotte hit Chambers for an eight-yard touchdown and 13-7 lead.

Miami extended the lead to 20-7 with a 35-yard pass to Chambers from Frerotte, capping off a seven-play, 87-yard drive. Chambers accounted for 50 yards on the drive.

The Chargers struck back with a 13-play drive that ended a Drew Brees touchdown run on a quarterback draw from four yards out to close within six. Brees went 6-for-6 for 57 yards on the drive.

With pressure all around, Frerotte delivered a 56-yard strike to Marty Booker to the Chargers nine-yard line. Ronnie Brown tried to go over the top from the one-yard line and fumbled with San Diego picking up the loose ball. The call on the field, a fumble, was challenged but the play was upheld – San Diego ball with 7:55 on the clock.

Miami head coach Nick Saban would challenge another call minutes later when Brees hit Eric Parker on third and 17 for a first down. Saban challenged the spot of the ball, contending that Parker made a backwards move before being tackled short of the first down. The referees agreed that Parker moved backwards on his own after initially being past the first down marker and thus forcing fourth down and one. With the ball on the Chargers' 24, San Diego went for it with a quick handoff to Lorenzo Neal and got the first down by two inches with four minutes to go.

On first and ten from the San Diego 36, Jeremiah Bell stripped the ball from Brees and Miami recovered the ball. San Diego challenged the call on the field but the play was upheld with two and a half minutes to go. Mare pushed the lead to 23-14 with a 20-yard field goal.

Brees hit Gates for a touchdown with 15 seconds to go to make it 23-21, taking 50 seconds to drive 56 yards for the score. The onsides kick by Mike Scifres was recovered by Miami to end the game.

On fourth down and eight from the Dolphins 33, head coach Marty Schottenheimer left his offense on the field – showing no regard for the competency of the Miami offense. It paid off when Drew Brees hit Reche Caldwell for the first and capped a 62-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Keenan McCardell to give the Bolts a 7-0 lead.

The Chargers went for it on fourth and six at the Miami 32 in the second quarter but failed to convert when Brees' pass fell incomplete due to a miscommunication with receiver Eric Parker. It led to three points for the Dolphins when Mare connected from 29 yards out. Miami registered its initial first down of the game on the drive, three total for the drive, after producing just ten yards total in their first three drives.

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