Chargers Payback Pushed Back

The Chargers had better hope the Patriots were cheating. If that 38-14 drubbing came on a level playing field, then there is little hope for claiming supremacy in the AFC.

-- Frustration plagued the LaDainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers duo in the so-called payback game. The pair lacked the big plays that brought their team admiration in 2006.

-- Former Charger Junior Seau had L.T.'s number all night, although he apparently misplaced it before the game. The 12-time Pro bowl linebacker did not call his ex-protégé prior to the game but gave him an earful on the field.

-- Tomlinson has historically done well against the Patriots defense (he had averaged 5.6 yards per carry against them since 2001) but history failed to repeat itself. Last year's MVP fell short of the 50-yard mark for the second-consecutive week.

-- During training camp, first-time starter Matt Wilhelm promised fans that he'd be fit by the regular season after battling a calf injury. He made it back for the opener and was involved in several tackles in the first four minutes of the Patriots game, but his action would end there. Wilhelm walked off the field in the first half after re-injuring his calf and started the second half in street clothes.

-- Tim Dobbins stepped in for Wilhelm. On his first play, Dobbins was beaten badly by Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker.

-- Randy Moss showed early on that he could play rough. Rather than outrunning San Diego cornerback Drayton Florence, Moss went the physical route to overpower his opponent.

-- Antonio Cromartie countered with some physicality of his own, but with a minute left in the first half he was too physical and provoked a penalty call while covering Donté Stallworth.

-- With just two games down, Philip Rivers already has three interceptions. He totaled just nine for the entire 2006 season. The quarterback had one against the Bears and two against the New England Patriots, including his first pass of the game, intended for Craig Davis. Rivers never found a rhythm or a comfort zone and was also sacked three times.

-- Shawne Merriman finally flipped the switch and it had nothing to do with his sack dance. The outside linebacker contributed with two sacks and held continuous pressure on the Patriots offense.

-- The minimal attention on Benjamin Watson made it easy for the Patriots to score the first points of the game. Inside linebacker Stephen Cooper touched up Watson but didn't stick with him and let him run wide open into the end zone.

-- Jeromey Clary stepped in when Shane Olivea (lower back) was hurt. It was originally thought that Roman Oben would hold the backup role, but for the second week Oben was inactive and Clary took the field. Olivea is expected to miss next week's road game against the Green Bay Packers and the Chargers may consider turning to the 12-year veteran.

-- Defensive tackle Ryon Bingham delivered a hard take-down on Laurence Maroney, who is the Patriots primary ball carrier since Corey Dillon asked to be released in the offseason. Lorenzo Neal once paved the way for Dillon in Cincinnati, who rushed for more than 1,300 yards in two consecutive seasons with NFL's premier blocking fullback as his escort.

-- A bad throw from Brady was intercepted by Clinton Hart with seven seconds left on the clock in the first half.

-- The opening drive of the second half took up more than half of the third quarter. Tomlinson was a yard short on third-and-goal. Norv Turner decided to go for it and the eight-minute drive was worth the wait. Neal provided the climatic conclusion, catching a touchdown out in the right flat.

-- Antonio Gates, who was pivotal in the season opener, brought in a 12-yard pass for San Diego's second and last touchdown of the game.

-- Kassim Osgood continues to shine on special teams, stripping the ball away from Ellis Hobbs, with Jammer there to pick it up. Osgood showed great vision as he followed the play, sifted through traffic and then nonchalantly jumped back to the bench to show it is all in a days work. Unfortunately, his efforts were for naught, as the Chargers followed with a three-and-out.

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