Week 9 Game Recap: San Diego Chargers 31, New York Jets 26
What you need to know
RB LaDainian Tomlinson thoroughly dominated the game, particularly in the first half. He scored a career high four touchdowns, becoming the first Charger since Chuck Muncie to do so. His moves are becoming very Barry Sanders-esque, and on one in particular he made Ty Law look silly. It should be on every highlight newsreel in the country over the next few days, it was that good.
TE Antonio Gates enjoyed yet another awesome outing. Despite not being as active in the second half, Gates still rolled for 132 yards on eight receptions. The Jets had no answers for him, as is often the case with teams defending Gates. He is easily the best tight end in football right now.
QB Drew Breesí stat line looks terrific, but he once again wasnít asked to make a ton of difficult passes. The Chargers got to New York with a number of short slants and quick strikes.
Once again, the Chargersí pass defense allowed a team to mount a furious comeback. After last weekís performance against the Chiefs, one would have thought a focus would be on stopping the pass. The Chargers, however, allowed unproven Brooks Bollinger to engineer two separate touchdown drives and let the potential game winner get to the three yard line before finally coming up with a big stop.
Brooks Bollinger replaced the injured Vinny Testaverde, and performed magnificently. Testaverde didnít play badly, but Bollinger clearly lit a spark under the team. Upon entering the game, the team immediately showed signs of life. The young QB led the team on two touchdown drives, and nearly led them on the game winner but came up three yards short. The fantasy implications in most leagues are minimal, but for those in deeper leagues it appears almost certain that Bollinger gets the start next week.
RB Curtis Martin found very little room to run, as evidenced by his 3.5 YPC. He did manage to find the end zone, however, for the 100th score of his career.
WR Wayne Chrebet left the game late with a serious looking concussion. Considering he nearly had to retire due to concussions, it looks like his career may be over.
In other Jets injury news, TE Chris Baker suffered a broken ankle. HC Herm Edwards said Baker is ďdoneĒ.
What you ought to know
|QB Drew Brees, Pass: 20 - 27 - 270 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0|
He didnít have as great a game as the stats would seem to indicate, but once again didnít make many glaring mistakes. He put up big numbers mostly courtesy of the ability of both Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson to make something happen after the catch. The Chargers ran a number of quick slants and short passes to get the ball into the hands of the playmakers, though on several occasions Brees made perfect passes down the middle to a streaking Antonio Gates. Basically, Brees ďmanaged the gameĒ. Brees made a bad read on two consecutive plays late in the second quarter, where he had open receivers in the end zone but failed to see them over the oncoming pass rush. He also made a bad mistake on the interception he threw, as he was falling backward and tried to make a pass that he canít. Lastly, while it wasnít entirely his fault, he did fumble to give the Jets the ball in San Diego territory, rather than putting the game out of reach. Fantasy owners should know that Brees didnít play a spectacular game, but as long as heís playing pitch and catch with the two big playmakers, he can continue to be a good fantasy option.
Tomlinson exploded for four touchdowns and 150 total yards. He displayed several unbelievable cuts and terrific moves. One play in particular is sure to stand out on the highlight reel. After catching a ball down the sideline, all that stood between Tomlinson and the end zone was Jets CB Ty Law. One fake out later, Tomlinson was on his way for six. Tomlinsonís cut-backs were very reminiscent of Barry Sanders. Of course, that is an overused comparison but with Tomlinson, it certainly applies. His day could have been even bigger had it not been for some tricky footing. On three different occasions, Tomlinson slipped and fell without being touched by a defender. On two of slips, it appeared there was a ton of running room in front of him.
As a side note, Tomlinson owners may want to consider sending a thank-you note to FB Lorenzo Neal. Aside from springing Tomlinson for several big gains, Nealís ďgood but not good enoughĒ production enabled Tomlinsonís huge day. On two separate occasions, Neal was given a carry inside the Jetsí five yard line. And on both occasions, Neal came up JUST short of the goal line, allowing Tomlinson the score on the very next play. Had Nealís running been just a little better on either run, Tomlinson wouldíve had a very good but not spectacular fantasy day.
Caldwell got off to a hot start, with four receptions and a long pass interference in the first half. In the second half, when the play-calling turned ultra-conservative, Caldwell only hauled in one pass. After very costly fumbles in each of the past two game, it was telling that the Chargers threw to Caldwell early and often. And despite the lack of targets in the second half, he did catch a big third down reception.
McCardell may have only caught two passes, but one of them was a spectacular grab where he leaped high into the air, was drilled by a defender and spun, yet still managed to hang onto the pass.
Gates picked up this week where he left off last week. He ran wild in the Jetsí secondary, particularly down the seam in the middle of the field. New York simply had no answers for the star tight end, and he posted yet another 100+ yard effort. At times after the catch, Gates seems to simply be able to flick off defenders as if they are a minor nuisance. Both his speed and strength (not to mention excellent hands) were on display big-time.
Kaeding connected on his only field goal attempt, from just 18 yards out. He wasnít put into any high-pressure situations, which may have been a good thing after his big miss against the Jets in last yearís playoffs.
The Jets havenít exactly been a stellar rushing team to this point, so itís difficult to gauge whether it was a poor job by the Jets or a good job by San Diego. It was, as is usually the case, a combination of both. RB Curtis Martin was actually running fairly well at times, but the majority of his production came on two runs. One was a short touchdown from less than a yard out, and the other was a 21 yard scamper. Aside from the 21 yard gain, Martin totaled just 51 yards on his other 20 carries, which demonstrates how good a job the Chargers run defense did.
For what seems like a countless number of times, the San Diego pass defense fell apart in the second half. They havenít had a problem with the pass rush, but once again the defensive backs played soft on their men allowing the Jets to get back in the game. At one point, the score was 28-13 but some shoddy coverage by the Chargers enabled the Jets to get to within five points, with the ball, at the three yard line. San Diego was called for key pass interference, and probably got away with another in the end zone during the potential game winning drive. If not for a tremendous defensive play by CB Quentin Jammer on fourth down, itís likely that the pass defense would have been the sole reason behind what could have been a bad loss. The Chargers did get a good pass rush, especially from Shaun Phillips (two sacks) and Shawn Merriman (one sack). Merriman made both an awful and a tremendous play on the same play early in the game. After allowing his man, TE Chris Baker, to streak downfield wide open for a long catch, Merriman managed to catch him from behind and save a touchdown. After that play, Merriman didnít make another mistake. He is really demonstrating that he will be a high impact player in this league. CB Sammy Davis was injured trying to defend a touchdown pass to Laveranues Coles in the fourth quarter.
Bollinger very nearly led the Jets to an improbable comeback victory over the Chargers. Entering a tough situation late in the third quarter with the team trailing and Vinny Testaverde injured, Bollinger calmly and coolly engineered two touchdown drives, both culminating in touchdown passes by Bollinger. The young QB never appeared flustered, even when facing a relentless pass rush. He wasnít asked to make many tough passes; with most of his passes targeted underneath to the tight ends and fullback (eight of 21 went to a TE or a FB). Bollinger very nearly won the ball game as well. After leading the Jets back to trail 31-26 late in the fourth quarter, Bollinger got the Jets to the San Diego three yard line. After a failed run and two incomplete passes, Bollinger lofted what appeared to be the go ahead touchdown to the corner of the end zone. Unfortunately for Bollinger, however, CB Quentin Jammer got his hand up just in time to knock the pass away. If not for an excellent defensive play, Bollinger might have thrown three second half touchdowns and led an incredible comeback against one of the AFCís top teams. That fact alone should get him a lot of consideration for the starting job in the immediate future.
Testaverde started and was mildly effective. He didnít do a poor job when in there, but he couldnít lead the Jets to any sustained drives. Much of his production came on one big pass play to TE Chris Baker. Testaverde left the game after getting banged up while being sacked. Backup QB Brooks Bollinger entered the game and immediately sparked the teamís comeback. Aside from Testaverdeís possible health questions, itís likely that Bollinger earned himself a start next week with his performance Sunday.
There wasnít a lot of running room for Martin in the game. He ran for 21 yards on one carry, and just 51 on his other 20 rushes. He did manage to find the end zone, however, for his 100th career touchdown. There is no word on whether Martin was satisfied with the Jetsí recognition of the accomplishment. He clearly isnít running as effectively as he did a year ago, though much of that certainly has to do with problems along the offensive line, which happened again today. It is possible, though, that Martin is more injured than he is letting on, because he seems to have no ability to move the pile like he did a year ago. Additionally, Martin was apparently poked in the eye sometime during the game. His eye was swollen shut, but he played through it. He was given a carry from the three on the Jetsí last drive, but was stopped short of the goal line by LB Shawn Merriman.
Coles had a very up and down game. He dropped his first possible reception, a wide open route that would have been an easy first down. He went on to grab only two receptions in the first half. Then in the second half, he came alive a little bit, only to leave the game with an injury after being tackled at the end of a reception. Just when it appeared he was finished, though, he came back in and caught an incredible touchdown along the end zone sideline to get New York to within five. His day eventually ended on a down note, as CB Jamar Fletcher broke up a potential touchdown pass on their final possession.
Chrebet suffered what looked to be a devastating injury late in the game. On a big third down play, Chrebet made a huge reception and was knocked to the ground, banging his head on the turf. It was clear that Chrebet had suffered some sort of concussion on the play, but in typical Chrebet fashion, he held onto the ball to convert for a first down. He eventually was helped to his feet and left the game, and with his history of concussions one has to wonder if heíll ever suit up again.
As is often the case, McCareins had a lot of balls thrown in his direction. And as is also often the case, he failed to catch most of them. He was targeted just three times by Vinny Testaverde, but Brooks Bollinger looked his way on five occasions once he entered the game. In fact, McCareins was the intended receiver on what could have been the game winning touchdown. San Diego CB Quentin Jammer, however, knocked the pass away at the last moment.
Baker caught a long reception early on, beating rookie LB Shawn Merriman down the seam. He was later seen limping off the field with help, and it was reported that he had suffered a broken ankle. HC Herm Edwards said that Baker is ďdoneĒ, which can only be interpreted to mean his season is over.
Jolley saw a lot of targets after starting TE Chris Baker left with an injury. Jolley was targeted five times, only catching one pass. Four of Jolleyís five passing targets came from Brooks Bollinger. The Jets seemingly were content to look underneath once Bollinger came in the game, rarely looking very far downfield. They seemingly didnít want to put him in a position where he needed to make big plays. Therefore, much of his action was to the TE and the fullback. If Bollinger is going to be the new Jetsí starter, combined with the Baker injury, Jolley may become a much bigger part of the passing game.
Nugent missed from 51 yards out on the Jetsí opening possession, but connected on each of his other attempts, from 35 and 22 yards out. It should be noted that the 51 yarder seemed to have the distance, but was wide.
The Jets were absolutely ripped up by LaDainian Tomlinson, especially early in the game. San Diegoís star running back torched New York for three touchdowns on the ground, as well as going over 100 yards. The Jets seemed almost unable to tackle Tomlinson at times, and really benefited by Tomlinson slipping on three different occasions. If not for the falls, he may have topped 150 yards.
New York had given up more than its season average in passing yardage before the first half was even over, which shows how incompetent the pass defense was. They had zero answers for TE Antonio Gates, and RB LaDainian Tomlinson torched one of the Jetsí best defensive players (CB Ty Law) during a touchdown reception of his own. New York got very little pressure on Drew Brees in the first half, though they did amp it up after halftime. This extra pressure directly led to the forced fumble of Drew Brees, which enabled the Jets to get back into the game and almost pull off the victory.