QUARTERBACKS- Drew Brees (13-24, 148) was solid if not spectacular. He was more the victim of dropped passes and lackluster play from his wideouts. Doug Flutie (3-11, 64) entered the game in the 4th quarter and delivered a 50 yard bomb that was helped out by pure concentration by Curtis Conway. That was all the magic he would deliver. Grade: C
RUNNING BACKS- LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 110 yards on 28 carries but he was abandoned in the final quarter getting just two carries. The man who is responsible for this team's success has proved in crunch time he needs to be used. Grade: B+
RECEIVERS- Five dropped passes, lackluster route running and one brilliant catch by Conway. Tim Dwight was solid with 5 catches and looked spirited. Rookies Reche Caldwell and Josh Norman dropped two sure first down passes from Brees. Eric Parker stopped running on a deep ball that he could have gotten to but thought the defender had position, when he didn't. Grade: D-
OFFENSIVE LINE- The line allowed three sacks and when Flutie was in he was running for his life trying to create opportunities. Jason Ball had a bad snap or two and they could not muster enough push in short yardage situations which ultimately lost the game. Grade: F
DEFENSIVE LINE- The line had good pressure on Drew Bledsoe but was porous in the trenches against the run. The holes were huge and they could not get any push upfield to open spots for the linebackers to make plays. Grade: C
LINEBACKERS- They had some good pressure on occasion rushing the quarterback but no one stayed in their respective lanes to stop Travis Henry (22-144, two touchdowns) as he routinely ran for eight yards getting deep into the secondary. Donnie Edwards provided his usual solid coverage in passing situations. Grade: C
SECONDARY- The unit played a spirited game allowing just 11 passes to be completed on 33 attempts for 107 yards. Eric Moulds and Peerless Price were kept quiet. The only blemish is the four pass interference calls against for 86 yards. Three of those calls happened on third down and three were in coverage of the veteran Moulds. Some of those penalties were questionable. Grade: B+
SPECIAL TEAMS- Steve Christie, in his return to Buffalo, kicked two field goals (39,53) and missed one into the strong wind (44 short). Two other opportunities into the wind were not given to the leg of Christie. Tim Dwight showed his aggressiveness on punt returns to aid in the field position battle. They did commit an offsides penalty on a kickoff which hurt them. Grade: C+
COACHING- Marty Schottenheimer decided to put in Flutie with a little over 8 minutes to go. Flutie did not respond. Brees was simply the victim of dropped passes and the decision to go away from the running game in the fourth quarter is baffling. The coach also decided not to kick a field goal in two situations where any other team in the league would have. The sorry state of the Chargers special teams and lack of confidence hurt them on this day. Grade: F
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