Chargers need Rivers' poise

The Chargers ended the regular season with a bang - well, sort of. The depth was severely tested and the Cardinals made a game of it. The troubles of Philip Rivers in the two weeks prior to Sunday are nothing compared to the prospects of going on without him.

Chargers Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus -- The Chargers breathed a sigh of relief as Rivers was back on his game, not looking like the quarterback who struggled the past two games. He set career-high with a .792 completion percentage, hitting 19-of-24 for 231 yards and two scores. Vincent Jackson continues to be a favorite target and Antonio Gates snagged the other touchdown. Pass protection was decent, although Rivers' evasiveness was compromised by a foot injury.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- The big boys up front cleared the way for 169 rushing yards as they open holes against a Cards front which was pretty active. LaDainian Tomlinson carried it but 16 times for a 4.1-yard average. Michael Turner proved again he's among the best backup running backs in the league as he averaged 5.3 yards on 11 carries. The real shocker was FB Lorenzo Neal rumbling for a season-high 43 yards on a carry.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- With not much of a pass rush -- just one sack – Kurt Warner had the time to expose the secondary on occasion. He finished with 356 yards and a touchdown pass as he consistently had time to go through his reads and find the open man. Quentin Jammer had a decent day with seven tackles; Drayton Florence matched that number but was burned on occasion.

RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Cards couldn't reach the century mark as a team and Edgerrin James was held to 66 yards, although the Cards weren't very committed to the run as James ran only 16 times. Igor Olshansky was a force in stopping the run and Jamal Williams was a beast again in the middle.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- Tim Dobbins fell on a muffed punt in the Cards' end zone, which swung the momentum toward the Chargers. Nate Kaeding kicked two more field goals as he continues to prove his Pro Bowl selection was warranted. P Mike Scifres had three efforts land inside the 20, and none of them bounce in for a touchback. Good stuff here this week.

COACHING: A -- Marty Schottenheimer became the sixth NFL coach to reach the 200-win plateau in the regular season. He baited the Chargers to give it their best effort against a cellar-dwelling teams looking forward to the offseason. But his players were focused and displayed an amazing amount of energy for a squad that was riding a nine-game winning streak (now 10) and was playing for the 14th straight week after getting early-season bye.

Cardinals Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Kurt Warner passed for 365 yards but had only one touchdown to show for it. That's been the offense's problem under his direction.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Edgerrin James had some room to run but the team fell behind and couldn't stick with it.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- Philip Rivers had too many wide-open receivers and passed for two touchdowns despite playing with an injured foot.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- It was decent, but then San Diego pulled LaDainian Tomlinson at the end of the third quarter.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- A muffed punt by Bryant Johnson resulted in a San Diego touchdown, which helped give the Chargers the game.

COACHING: C -- The game plan was fine, but this team had no sense of urgency when it was trying to score late.


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