Gates-way to Victory

After sitting out the entire preseason, LaDainian Tomlinson was ready to play on Sunday, but the Chicago Bears agenda focused on stopping the MVP. Antonio Gates stepped in as the go-to-guy and a collective sigh of relief is heard across San Diego.

-- Game one against the Chicago Bears left no doubt that preseason is over. Despite finishing the game, 14-3, the Bolts struggled.

--- The tempo was set early in Sunday's game. The Chicago Bears were determined to extinguish the San Diego Chargers offensive foundation-LaDainian Tomlinson- by establishing a short field for the MVP to play on. They succeeded, at first. L.T. gained a mere eight yards in 10 carries for the first half.

--The NFC Champs quickly shut down L.T.'s traditional running game, but they could not stop him forever as he pushed his way through the holes created by the offensive line for a touchdown.

--- Before L.T. got some room to move, Rivers was forced to get the ball out quick and went back to preseason play, using players like Antonio Gates, Michael Turner and Vincent Jackson.

---Philip Rivers utilized Gates's versatility early on. He picked up 17 yards on his first possession and provided the first sigh of relief in the season-opener. With less than a minute to go in the third quarter, the game's go-to-guy tip toed into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game. Gates finished with 107 receiving yards.

-- Jackson was unsuccessful with his opportunities to connect for touchdowns. An incomplete and a penalty were not Rivers intentions when he threw an end zone pass to Jackson, but the wide receiver‘s quick thinking showed game maturity. When Jackson pushed Charles Tillman, who had inside position, he stopped an interception and maintained Chargers possession. His second chance letdown came from himself rather than the three Bears who hit the third-year player after the ball bounced off his chest pads.

-- All preseason it was Turner who filled the void that L.T.'s absence created, so it was only fitting that he was called upon when the Bears continually stopped Tomlinson. He sat out Wednesday's practice (ankle), and it was questionable whether he would play on Sunday. The Chargers are glad he did. Turner finished with 56 yards.

-- Marlon McCree changed the direction of play, when he intercepted a touchdown pass. The safety brought continuous pressure, with many stops throughout the game.

-- A lot of attention was devoted to rookie Eric Weddle this preseason, but the strong safety showed it was well deserved. In his rookie debut, Weddle came up with a sack and contributed to the strong defense that forced the Bears to travel the field goal route.

-- Two more sacks came from Jacques Cesaire and Shaun Phillips, and Rivers was sacked three times by the Chicago Bears defense.

-- Darren Sproles, who arguably fought the hardest to play in regular season, was injured on the first return.


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