Chargers football is playoff football

Playoff football. The Chargers have played it two weeks straight. Defense combined with a solid rushing game wins in the postseason. The quarterback just has to manage the game.

Chargers Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- QB Philip Rivers was dreadful. With just 10 completions in 30 attempts, Rivers was wide high, low, inside and outside. He didn't get help with four balls dropped, but he was clearly off his game for the second consecutive week. But, more important, he gathered his wits to lead the team to the victory. The pass protection was fine and really didn't factor into Rivers' uneven play. WR Vincent Jackson continues to become a bigger part of the passing game.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 123 yards on 22 carries, but he didn't rush for a score for the first time since Oct. 22, although he did have a scoring run called back. What makes Tomlinson's outing so impressive is that the Seahawks had to pay scant attention to the passing game with Rivers off his mark so much. The run blocking was solid once again, and that was with backup veteran LT Roman Oben seeing considerable playing time.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck never did get comfortable, as the Chargers were aggressive in the pass pressure early to set the tone. The NFL's leading sack team added six more to its total, with three coming from Shawne Merriman -- he also swatted down two passes. S Clinton Hart gets two interceptions and LB Donnie Edwards nearly intercepts two more.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- DT Jamal Williams was dominant up front, but Seattle's running game gashed the Chargers for 153 yards, with 140 coming from Shaun Alexander. San Diego was missing ILB Randall Godfrey (hamstring), who is among the unit's best run-stuffers, and the linebackers weren't able to take as big of an advantage of Williams' play up front -- that, and Alexander is a heck of a back.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Nate Kaeding showed off his Pro Bowl leg with two field goals through the rain and wind. P Mike Scifres had a busy day, although he's also had better ones. Still, he managed 42.5-yard average with a long of 59. Nothing much came from the returns games and the coverage units, save when Nate Burleson's TD return was called back.

COACHING: A -- The Chargers didn't have as much to play for as the Seahawks, but they were able to match Seattle's intensity, which is saying something with the noise generated at Qwest Field. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron didn't shy away from the pass in the fourth quarter, despite Rivers being off. And Wade Phillips' baffling blitz packages bagged another victim. There were some issues at the end with clock management, but all Marty Schottenheimer could manage was a post-game smile after another thrilling victory.

Seahawks Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: F -- WR Deion Branch dropped six passes. Seattle allowed six sacks. QB Matt Hasselbeck tossed two interceptions. Mike Holmgren's offense can't function very well with those numbers.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- No complaints here. RB Shaun Alexander ran hard and ran well against the Chargers. He had impressive touchdown runs of 33 and 9 yards as part of his 140-yard total. Seattle joined Denver as the only teams to top 150 yards rushing against the Chargers this season.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- Two plays ruined a near-perfect day of pass defense by Seattle. Both resulted in touchdowns. SS Michael Boulware blew the coverage on the Chargers' 37-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds remaining. Allowing such a play was inexcusable in that situation given that San Diego needed a touchdown, not a field goal. All Boulware had to do was defend the end zone.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- Seattle became the third team this season to keep LaDainian Tomlinson out of the end zone. The Seahawks allowed Tomlinson to break free for a 62-yard run in the second quarter. They were fortunate to have a facemask penalty wipe out what would have been a 48-yard touchdown run by Tomlinson in the third quarter. Other than those lapses, the Seahawks kept Tomlinson in check.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- A questionable holding call wiped out Nate Burleson's 96-yard kick return for a touchdown. Seattle had a few additional penalties on special teams and Burleson used poor judgment in when to field punts. On the up side, P Ryan Plackemeier came within a yard of the franchise record with a 72-yard punt.

COACHING: B -- The Seahawks were ready to play. They stuck with the running game and it paid off. Holmgren and the offensive staff put receivers in position to make big plays. It wasn't their fault that Deion Branch dropped four passes. Holmgren also successfully challenged a crucial ruling that would have given San Diego possession in Seattle territory had the play stood. The defensive plan made sense, but coaches paid a heavy price for leaving Boulware on the field when the Chargers basically had to score a long touchdown pass to win the game. Boulware has been a liability in pass coverage all season.


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