Charger Recap Week 3

Playing on a field with temperatures well over 100 degrees is not the football even the San Diego Chargers envisioned. Coming away with a win to improve to 3-0 was the goal they achieved. The Chargers overcame 8 penalties and the heat to win 23-15 in front of a crowd of 23,890 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

The Chargers scored 21 points off turnovers, including 1 fumble recovery and 2 interceptions. The last interception, by Donnie Edwards, was returned 20 yards for a touchdown putting the Chargers up 23-7. A few minutes before Edwards interception, Carlos Polk made a huge play on special teams blocking a punt to force a safety that put the Chargers up 16-7 with less than a quarter to play.

On the other 2 turnovers, the offense was able to punch it in working with the shortened field. With under a minute to go in the first quarter Jake Plummer threw an errant pass that Marcellus Wiley intercepted and slowly rumbled it back 40 yards to the 6-yard line. Ladainian Tomlinson was able to punch it in from 4 yards out on a misdirection pitch from Drew Brees as Tomlinson ran it in untouched to tie the score 7-7.

Ben Leber continued his outstanding play this week with a forced fumble on Thomas Jones on the next Arizona possession. Jones ran off right tackle for 7 yards before being hit by Leber and fumbling. Ryan McNeil recovered the ball at the Charger 38-yard line. Tomlinson again scored for his second touchdown of the day running one right up the gut from 2 yards out behind rookie Toniu Fonoti. That play was setup with a 19-yard pass from Brees to Stephen Alexander. The score put the Chargers in the lead to stay at 14-7.

On the play before Alexander had his 19-yard reception, he had what appeared to be another reception, but this one was for a touchdown. Alexander had the ball pop loose after he landed on his back. It was ruled incomplete but the Chargers challenged the play. After reviewing the play the officials ruled that Alexander did not have control of the ball and the call was upheld.

On the first drive of the day for Arizona, Plummer hit a slanting MarTay Jenkins in stride as he weaved his way 65 yards for a touchdown. MarTay outraced 2 Charger defenders on the play showing how dangerous he is when he has the ball. The score put Arizona up 7-0. Quentin Jammer made his debut on the play and ended up being one of the defenders chasing MarTay but he was not the man of fault on the play.

After Edwards interception return for a touchdown it seemed the Chargers were in good position to win the game. On the ensuing possession, the Cardinals took 1 minute and 53 seconds to drive 80 yards, capped off by a 31-yard strike from Plummer to Marcel Shipp for a touchdown. A successful 2-point conversion followed and that quickly, Arizona was back in the game 23-15.

Plummer tried to continue his 4th quarter magic on the Cardinals next possession. Just before the 2 minute warning Thomas Jones scampered up the middle for 27 yards tackled by Vernon Fox and Ryan McNeil at the Charger 9 yard line. With 1st and goal the Chargers defense held their ground on 4 consecutive pass plays and kept the Cardinals out of the end zone.

The Cardinals got one final shot to tie the game up with 35 seconds remaining and no time outs but were unable to muster any significant drive as the game ended on an incomplete pass.

Perhaps the biggest thing for the Chargers on this day was not only containing Thomas Jones who was held to 73 yards on 17 carries after gaining 173 last week, but also holding David Boston to 3 catches. Quentin Jammer had the duty on all 3rd downs of covering Boston in man-to-man coverage. Now that is some debut to go against the total package of receivers. Jammer allowed only 1 catch during the time he was on the field, a 14 yarder to Boston. He did get a 5-yard penalty for illegal hands to the face of Boston but stated, "That's going to happen now and then because we are both physical guys."

Freddie Jones did have 5 catches against his old team but it was not enough to secure the win.

Cory Raymer left early in the first with an injured left Achilles. Undrafted rookie Jason Ball from New Hampshire replaced Raymer and played well in his first NFL action on the line.

The star of the game is again the Chargers defense that created 3 turnovers and pressured Jake Plummer all day. Without the takeaways the game could have very well ended up differently. When Coach Shottenheimer was asked if his team would have won without the turnovers he replied, "Probably not, but welcome to the NFL. That's the way it is."

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