Offensive Titans

There will be games when one unit lets the other down. There will also be times when the defensive shoulders become wide enough to carry the load. Sunday – the San Diego Chargers' offense played the part of Atlas.

Chargers Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Philip Rivers fueled the comeback with his second-half passing, and that can't be ignored, especially from a first-year starter. No drops and Antonio Gates made a great catch on a critical third down when the Chargers were driving. Pass protection was solid as he was sacked but twice and had ample time. Rookie LT Marcus McNeill manhandled Bengals RE Justin Smith.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- The Chargers had to get away from the running game for a bit when mounting the comeback, but it opened timely holes -- especially down by the goal line -- to spring Tomlinson for four touchdowns and 104 yards. RT Shane Olivea draws a 15-yard flag on the opening play, but that's long forgotten as the men up front contribute greatly to the comeback.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- Blown coverages, miscommunication, playing with too big of a cushion -- you name it and the secondary will plead guilty. Unit gets torched for 440 yards and three scores -- including a 74-yarder -- as it has no answer for Carson Palmer and his various targets. Marlon McCree's cheap shot is icing on this dreadful cake. What was missing on the pass rush -- Shawne Merrriman and Luis Castillo -- was revealed in the shoddy play here.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- The Bengals rushed for 124 yards and Rudi Johnson averaged 4.7 yards on just 18 attempts. If the Chargers weren't so bad covering the pass, the Bengals probably would have pounded the ball more. The Chargers missed Castillo here as well at the point of attack. The Chargers provided too big of holes for Bengals running back Rudi Johnson and the rest of the Bengals backs.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- The Chargers' coverages get burned for a 36-yard kickoff return but does well on punts. Mike Scifres is busy early on and has but one he would ask for back. Michael Turner delivered a spark with his 49-yard kickoff return. The punt return game was tame, with Eric Parker leaving with a neck injury and Keenan McCardell delivering two fair catches.

COACHING: A -- Ever dream that Marty Schottenheimer would be part of a game with a combined 90 points? Probably not. But Schottenheimer laid down the challenge at halftime, telling his players just to play hard in the second half and don't worry about the final score. The Chargers took him up on it and won the game. Cam Cameron's offensive play-calling in the second half -- especially on third downs -- was on the spot.

Bengals Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus -- The minus is for the lost fumble by quarterback Carson Palmer, who was sacked and stripped by linebacker Shaun Phillips. It led to a 9-yard LaDainian Tomlinson run that gave San Diego a 42-38 lead. Otherwise, it was a career day for Palmer (440 passing yards) and Chad Johnson (a franchise record 260 receiving yards). Johnson had two touchdown catches from 51 and 74 yards. Palmer also threw a seven yard touchdown to Chris Henry. There was a curious decision by Palmer, though, on the last play (fourth and 10 from the Chargers 15 with less than a minute to play) when Palmer threw for rookie Glenn Holt in the end zone, passing up Johnson, who, admittedly, was double-covered but still more likely to make the play.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The Bengals did a solid job against a good run defense, running for 124 yards and a 4.4-yard average. Two touchdowns came on the ground, and Rudi Johnson rambled for 85 yards and a 4.7-yard average.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- Philip Rivers threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns. The Bengals have surrendered 12 touchdown passes and have just three interceptions in the past six games. Third down defense in the air was terrible. On the Chargers' last touchdown drive, the one that stretched their lead from 42-41 to 49-41, the Bengals allowed four first downs on third down, including two pass plays.

RUSH DEFENSE: D -- The Bengals held the Chargers in check most of the day, limited the run game to 107 yards, through 104 of them and four rush touchdowns belonged to LaDainian Tomlinson. Of course, the Bengals were horrible on third down defense, allowing San Diego eight of nine conversions in the second half.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- Shayne Graham missed a 51-yard field goal and gave San Diego excellent field position for their first touchdown. Kyle Larson had his first off-day punting. Michael Turner had a 31.3-yard average on six kickoff returns, including a 49-yarder.

COACHING: F -- To hear Marvin Lewis tell it, the defensive collapse is primarily his players fault. He exonerated his coaches Monday. These are his and his staff's players. San Diego adjusted to come back from a 28-7 deficit at halftime. The Bengals had no adjustments, getting whipped 42-13 in the second half.


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