AFC West Report: Chargers Suffer Third Loss

Go figure the NFL, the Patriots beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh, the Chargers beat the Patriots in New England, and the Steelers beat the Chargers in San Diego. It doesn't make any sense does it? Welcome to parody in the National Football League.

For the third time this season the San Diego Chargers gave up a fourth quarter lead as they lost to the Steelers 24-22 Monday Night. That puts the Chargers in a tough situation. They stand 2-3 and face the Raiders in Oakland this weekend. The Broncos are 4-1 and leading the division and Sunday will be a must win for Marty Schottenheimer and his team.

The Chargers looked great in their throwback powder blue uniforms; unfortunately their red zone offense didn't look as hot. The Steelers held the Chargers to a hat trick of field goals deep in their own territory. The Steelers were more fortunate and were able to translate their scoring opportunities into touchdowns. That was until kicker Jeff Reed calmly hit the game winning 40-yard field goal with just six seconds left in the game.

The Chargers roared back thanks to the field goals and a two-yard touchdown run by LaDainian Tomlinson with 5:48 left in the game. The two-point try failed as the Chargers led 22-21. It was costly as the Steelers drove down the field with little resistance from the Chargers defense.

Time of possession was not on the Chargers side and the recipe for success seems to be obvious. LaDainian Tomlinson was only able to get 18 rushes for 62 yards. He did have seven catches for 68 yards, but the bottom line is he didn't get it enough. That lack of urgency to get the ball into the hands of their premier playmaker continues to hurt the Chargers chances for success this season.

On the other side of the ball, the Steelers offense chewed up nearly 34 minutes of possession. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passed for 225 yards and a touchdown. Before getting hurt on the final drive he spread the ball out to seven different receivers. Still he managed to gain 7.1 yards per completion on the Chargers secondary.

Before getting hurt with an ankle injury, cornerback Drayton Florence committed a pair of key penalties on two Steelers scoring drives. He committed a 20-yard pass interference penalty and also a 15-yard personal foul that resulted in first downs for the Steelers. On the bright side, rookie linebacker Shawne Merriman forced Roethlisberger to fumble and had a sack. The Chargers travel to Oakland this Sunday for a 1:15 PST start.

The Denver Broncos continue to be the pleasant surprise in the NFL. With their 21-19 win over the Washington Redskins they move to 4-1 while winning four in a row. The Denver defense once again held strong when linebacker Ian Gold broke up Mark Brunell's pass attempt for the two-point conversion to tie the game with just one minute left in the fourth quarter.

Tatum bell had his NFL breakout game rushing for 127 yards on just 12 carries. Bell scored touchdowns from 34 and 55 yards out respectively. Mike Anderson added 34 yards on 11 carries.

Jake Plummer was hardly stellar throwing considering the fact he didn't reach the century mark in passing. But he didn't make any mistakes. However, it could have been disastrous day for Plummer but he was saved by the world famous tuck rule early in the third quarter. He attempted a pass at the goal line and the ball slid from his hands. After a challenge by Denver Head Coach Mike Shanahan, it was ruled Plummer was bringing the ball back into his body with a forward throwing motion and the Broncos were able to punt from deep in their territory.

The best offensive weapon for the Broncos continues to be punter, Todd Sauerbrun averaged 47.3 yards per punt on the afternoon giving the Redskins the long field all day and he is one of the best punters in the league. The Broncos will host the world champion Patriots on Sunday at 1:15 PST. The Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) will host the Washington Redskins (3-1) Sunday at 12:00 at Arrowhead.

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