PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Philip Rivers turned in one of the best games of his career, accumulating a 141.9 passer rating while completing 18 of 27 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns. He was poised in the pocket -- it helped that the pass-protection was excellent; no sacks -- and was able to go through his reads and find the open man. Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd took advantage of their height difference over the Pats cornerbacks, and often Rivers was content to throw a jump-ball type pass. More often than not, Jackson or Floyd would come down with it. What made this performance so impressive is that the Chargers were missing their top wideout, Chris Chambers (ankle). Good stuff here, all around.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- LaDainian Tomlinson showed flashes of the past with cutbacks and spins that showed his ailing right big toe was feeling good on this night. He averaged 3.7 yards on 20 carries -- the best one was a 27-yarder that displayed his speed and quickness. Rookie Jacob Hester didn't help his quest to see more playing time with a fumble on his only carry. Run-blocking was much improved from the previous week in Miami.
PASS DEFENSE: A -- Pats QB Matt Cassel kept trying to throw the home run ball to Randy Moss, but the Chargers cornerbacks would have none of that. CB Quentin Jammer had his best game of the season as he blanketed Moss -- who had only three catches -- and finished with five passes defensed and an interception. Antonio Cromartie also helped out in keeping Moss down. Kudos, too, to the pass rush that sacked Cassel four times and was in his face countless other times.
RUSH DEFENSE: C -- Maybe a little high of a grade when an opponent runs for 106 rushing yards, but much of that came when the game was in hand. There was a new look with Tim Dobbins replacing Matt Wilhelm on the inside, and the result was a more physical approach that had been missing. Plus, Stephen Cooper was more effective in his second start after serving his four-game suspension. But the biggest thing was the play of DT Jamal Williams in the middle -- he consistently blew up plays with his push inside.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- K Nate Kaeding missed a 44-yarder but was good on three other efforts. P Mike Scifres has had better nights -- an average of less than 40 yards on three punts. Darren Sproles did produce a 29-yard punt return, but even more impressive were the coverage teams keeping league leader Ellis Hobbs under wraps -- he could manage only a long of 21 yards.
COACHING: A -- Norv Turner finally took the wraps off the offense, having the Chargers heave it long on the first play and keeping the Patriots defense on its heels with a great mixture of pass and run. Defensively, coordinator Ted Cottrell was also aggressive, having his cornerbacks jam receivers at the line and play with a more physical style rather than giving a cushion.
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