Chargers defense makes game changing play

The San Diego Chargers defense did what it had to against a tough Rams offense. The rebound game puts the Bolts in a solid position at 5-2 heading into another home game next weekend.

Marlon McCree returned a fumble 79 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter of Sunday's game. It was the second touchdown of his career. His last touchdown came on December 21, 2003 when he returned an interception 95 yards while playing for the Houston Texans.

"My guys made some great blocks," said McCree. "Without those blocks I couldn't have scored. I jumped on it. Carlos Polk was screaming, ‘Get up! Get up!' I have to thank him."

Jacques Cesaire forced the fumble on Stephen Davis, the first of his career.

The last Charger to return a fumble came in 2002 when Donnie Edwards returned a fumble 82 yards against the same St. Louis team on November 10 – Isaac Bruce fumbled the ball.

Edwards forced a fumble on Holt but it was recovered by St. Louis center Richie Incognito.

Shawne Merriman secured a sack on the Rams first possession to give him 6.5 on the season. He took over the team lead with the quarterback takedown, passing Shaun Phillips' six. Merriman pushed his total to 7.5 with a second first quarter sack. It is his fifth multi-sack game in his 22 game career. Merriman secured his third sack of the game in the third quarter, tying a career-high for sacks in game set earlier this year against Oakland. He has 8.5 sacks on the year.

"I know I am targeted and that is why we have great players on the defense who can go out and make plays as well," Merriman added.

Merriman also had a tackle for a loss in the second quarter and was credited with five tackles.

While the team worked on missed tackles during the week, they recorded 13 missed tackles through the midway point of the fourth quarter.

Rivers has thrown a touchdown pass in every game this season. He went 15-for-23 for 206 yards with a touchdown for a 108.2 passer rating.

By moving to 5-2, the team has secured five wins through the first seven games for the third time since 2000. The 2001 team opened 5-2 and the 2002 squad opened 6-1. The win also gave the Chargers their first 3-0 start at home since '02.

"If we lose this game we go 4-3 and go back in conference," said running back LaDainian Tomlinson. "That is the biggest thing – we need to keep pace with Denver. Playing at home was a big advantage for us."

Marty Schottenheimer secured his 191st regular-season win of his career on Sunday against St. Louis, moving him past Dan Reeves as the NFL's sixth-winningest coach. Reeves was in the broadcast booth this Sunday for Westwood One and CBS Radio Sports as Schottenheimer broke the tie.

Schottenheimer and the Chargers have won 26 regular season games since the start of the 2004 season, tied for fifth most in the league.

Since arriving in San Diego in 2002, October has been Schottenheimer's winningest month. The team is 13-8 in October under their head coach.

The Chargers will play four games in November. Schottenheimer has led the Chargers to undefeated Novembers each of the last two seasons (3-0 in both).

The Chargers are scoring 30.9 points per game through their first seven contests, which is second-most in the NFL.

"We can still do more," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We scored 38 but we left points out there."

The Bolts have been inside the red zone 28 times this season and with the exception of a kneel-down at the end of the Pittsburgh game, they've scored every time they've been inside the 20-yard line. Their 16 red zone touchdowns are second-most in the league.

Seven games into the season, the Chargers have the NFL's second-greatest point differential, outscoring their opponents by 107 points (216 to 109). Only the Chicago Bears (152 points, 221-69) have a larger margin of outscoring their opponents than the Bolts.

The Chargers have outscored their opponents in every quarter this season.

Since 2004, the Chargers have ranked among the league's elite when it comes to scoring points, trailing only the high-powered Indianapolis Colts, 1,080 to 1,166.

"I thought offensively we did some things well in the passing game," said Schottenheimer. "Our protection was good and Philip played extremely well for us."

The Chargers' 26 sacks this season are tied for the most in the NFL (Philadelphia, 26). On the other side of the ball, the Chargers have only surrendered ten sacks on offense. The Bolts +16 sack differential is the highest in the NFL.

Sunday marked the 18th-consecutive home game without allowing a player to rush for 100 yards. They are one game behind Kansas City for the longest active streak in the league.

The Chargers have only allowed one team and one player to rush for 100 yards against their defense this year.

Nate Kaeding is now a perfect 19-of-19 on tries inside of 40 yards in his career. He extended his Chargers record of successful PAT to 95 straight.

Mike Scifres punted three times on the day. None were returned and all landed inside the 20-yard line. He leads the league with a 43.0-yard net punting average on the season. Only seven of his punts have been returned this season and the Bolts have allowed an NFL-low 36 total punt return yards.

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