Chargers Rumble to Win
Sunday, August 21, 2005

By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

SAN DIEGO Ė While the Rams saw a lot of things to like from their first-team offense, the amount of horrifying defensive flashbacks canceled out most happy feelings.

San Diego used a dominant performance from its starting offense to build an early lead that the Rams couldnít overcome on its way to a 36-21 win at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The loss dropped the Rams to 1-1 in the preseason and the Chargers improved to 1-1.

It didnít take long for San Diego to impose its will as running back LaDainian Tomlinson set the tone for a big first half with a 55-yard touchdown run. Both teams used their starters for the first half with the exception of Tomlinson.

San Diegoís starters racked up 257 yards in the first half, 139 of those came on just 11 carries for an average of over 12 yards per carry. The Chargersí running attack was reminiscent of the Rams-Falcons NFC Divisional Playoff game in January when Atlanta shredded St. Louisí defense on the ground.

The Ramsí offense did what it could to get back in it, driving for a pair of touchdowns. But the air attack of quarterback Marc Bulger and Co. couldnít keep up with San Diegoís ground game.

Check back to www.stlouisrams.com later tonight for full game coverage.


FOURTH QUARTER

-Bryan Barker kicked his first punt as a Ram and it was a beauty. It hung in the air long enough for the coverage to get there and it bounced inside the 10. Itís a shame it was wasted by a penalty on Mike Furrey for running out of bounds and touching the ball first. There were about five others that could have touched that ball inside the 5.

-With about 12:50 to go, Brian Howard got a nice push off the left side, but leave it to Brandon Green to finish the job for a sack. Green continues to take full advantage of his opportunities and his chances for landing a roster spot continue to improve.

-Terrell starts these games out OK, but he is not in good enough shape yet to play a full game at a high level. Thatís a big part of the reason he is playing the whole game, so that he can learn through experience.

-Cleo Lemon is the new quarterback for the Chargers. That isnít of much importance, but itís fun to see his name in print.

-Clifford Dukes sacked Lemon with about seven minutes to go. Dukes isnít a bad player, but he seems like too much of a tweener to find a home in St. Louis. He isnít out of the question for a practice squad spot, though.

-More pressure from Green on the quarterback. The pass was completed, but Green is still all over the place.

-Lemonís pass to the ground directly in front of him no doubt left a pretty sour taste in the mouth of his coaches (sorry, it was either that or a Miss Cleo joke).

-The penalties by the special teams have got to stop. It doesnít matter how much coverage improves or the tackling gets, if they continue to give up extra yards and first downs, none of the rest of it matters.

-Jeremy Calahan made his first tackle for no gain on the run with about two minutes to go. Calahan has looked good in practice, but that was his first flash during a game. The battle between he, Howard and Parrella is going to be interesting.

-For some reason when Parrella made his first stop of the game, he was booed by San Diego fans. Did we miss something here; did Parrella part on bad terms?

-Ryan Fitzpatrick takes over at quarterback with 1:47 to go.

-Fitzpatrick just unloaded a perfect strike to Curtis for a 78-yard touchdown. Thatís what I mean by taking advantage of your opportunities.

-You have to give credit to Curtis, too. That guy might be faster than any Ramsí receiver in the past six or seven years and thatís saying something. He is due for a huge year. Itís 36-21 San Diego.

-You have to wonder if this game would be different had the Rams recovered that onside kick earlier. The way San Diego moved the ball, it probably wouldnít have changed much, but the possibility was there.

-Garrett and Furrey collided on that jump ball and Garrett is down. It looked like he got the wind knocked out him and he was able to walk to the sidelines under his own power.


THIRD QUARTER

-Some changes on defense to start the second half. John Parrella and Brian Howard are in the middle with Tyoka Jackson at end. Anthony Hargrove is still in. The linebackers are Robert Thomas, Trev Faulk and Jeremy Loyd.

-It hasnít made much difference who is in on defense right now; San Diego is making it look easy with its second-team offense. Philip Rivers has an awkward release, but is a talented young quarterback. Even a chance to recover a fumble went awry and resulted in more yards for San Diego.

-Andrew Pinnock just scored from 2 yards out to give the Chargers a 34-14 lead. Until the Rams can consistently get stops on defense it matters little how much offensive talent they have.

-Jeff Smoker just came in at quarterback. He could really use a good performance here. Alex Barron will protect his weakside from left tackle.

-Not a good start as he trips on the first exchange for a loss of 4 yards.

-Arlen Harris just got dropped for a 5-yard loss by rookie Shawne Merriman.

-Harris was tackled for a safety to make it 36-14 San Diego.

-The offensive line around Barron is from left to right Terrell (guard), Larry Turner (center), Saipaia (guard) and Matt Willig (tackle). Not exactly a dominant start for the second-string line.

-Madison Hedgecock now has a pair of tackles on special teams. He is a real competitor on special teams and you can just tell how bad he wants to make this roster.

-Smoker tossed a nice rope to Curtis for a first down there. There is no doubting Smokerís arm strength; itís his ability to read and dissect defenses that has always been the question.

-Harris just broke a couple of nice runs and itís no coincidence that those runs came off the left side. Barron is doing a nice job of clearing his man out on that side and Harris has had some nice holes.

-The Rams got some nice runs there, but arenít getting much consistency from the offensive line right now. That problem apparently carries from the starters to the backups.

-At the end of three quarters, itís 36-14 San Diego.


SECOND QUARTER

-Turner just took it in from 2 yards out. Itís 17-0 San Diego.

-Granted itís only the preseason, but this game really does have an eerie Atlanta playoff-debacle feel to it. That drive took 2:01 and five plays to go 77 yards.

-The Ramsí first drive of this quarter was more what we are accustomed to. Mike Martz spread the field and Bulger is making use of all his weapons. With 9:40 to go, Bulger just completed four passes to different receivers for 53 yards and the Rams are threatening for the first time.

-Bulger just found Kevin Curtis in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown pass. On six of the last seven plays on that drive, Bulger found five different receivers, covering 68 yards. Bulger was seven-of-seven on the drive for 72 yards. Thatís the Ramsí offense we have all come to expect. Itís 17-7 San Diego with 7:42 to go in the first half.

-The starting defense is still on the field with 7:35 to go in the first half. They desperately need to get something going here so they have something positive to walk away with.

-Leonard Little just made a nice tackle for a 1-yard loss and Chris Claiborne followed with another batted pass. A stop on this third down would do well for this defenseís confidence.

-Someone forgot to cover receiver Eric Parker on third-and-16. Thatíd be OK if he wasnít 20 yards down field. Parker got 29 yards on the play for a Chargersí first down.

-It didnít happen as quickly as theyíd have liked, but the Rams just forced a punt with 4:09 to go in the first half.

-Bulger is going to get another drive and it looks like heíll play through the first half.

-Bulger hit Isaac Bruce for a 16-yard gain, but he pitched to Curtis for another 6 yards. Shades of the old Rams having fun on the field.

-After a rough start, Bulger is finding his groove. He is spreading the ball around and getting rid of it quickly. Bulger wonít play past this first half, but he is much better than he was a week ago against Chicago.

-Bulger just laced a perfect throw to Torry Holt for 41 yards and a touchdown with 2:19 left in the first half. Bulger is feeling good right now and itís nice to see Holt make a big play too. That drive was vintage Rams as they traveled 91 yards on six plays in just 1:41. Itís 17-14 San Diego.

-The Rams just tried an onside kick and Remy Hamilton hit it perfect. Jerome Carter had it in his hands, but couldnít hang on. It was a good idea, a little lacking in execution.

-Archuleta just forced an incompletion on a blitz. Simply put, he is much more valuable in that type of role than in a substantial cover role.

-Kaeding hits from 41 yards out for the second-most celebrated field goal of the day. Itís 20-14 Chargers.

-It looked like the Ramsí two-minute offense was going to make a move, but a misfire for Shaun McDonald led to a third-and-1 which turned into a 44 yard interception return for a touchdown. Bulger dumped it to Faulk in the flat, but the ball was popped into the air, grabbed by Drayton Florence and taken for a touchdown. Itís 27-14 San Diego.

-Despite the interception, Bulger looked much better as the first half went along. He was on target on most of his throws and was headed toward a huge quarterback rating before the pick.

-Bulger just got sacked again to end the first half. Fortunately he didnít get hurt on the play, but with the ball in your own territory and about seven seconds left, itís hard to understand why he would be put in position to throw at all. He finished the first half 15-of-21 for 181 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

-The Chargers lead 27-14 going into the second half.


FIRST QUARTER

-The Rams started with Faulk and Steven Jackson in the back field. Some interesting things could come of that during the season.

-Oshiomogho Atogwe started at free safety in place of Adam Archuleta. Archuleta came in two plays later and helped on a tackle on his first play.

-LaDainian Tomlinson is the real deal; he accelerates as well as any back in the league. He just took it 55 yards for a touchdown pretty much untouched by the Rams defense. Archuleta got caught flat footed on that run and Tomlinson blew right by him. That play probably caused some flashback to the Atlanta playoff game on the Ramsí sideline. Itís 7-0 San Diego.

-Reggie Hodges has punted twice already. Both kicks had excellent hang time, but the second one traveled about 5 yards further. The coverage on the second punt was outstanding. The energy and enthusiasm in coverage is there, but the kicking needs to be consistent too.

-Nate Kaeding just booted a 35-yard field goal that probably got more fanfare than any field goal the preseason has seen. Kaeding missed some important kicks in last yearís playoffs and again in the Chargersí first preseason game so the fans made a bunch of noise in support of Kaeding. He converted with no problems. 10-0 Chargers.

-San Diego is making offense look pretty easy right now. Cornerback DeJuan Groce made a couple of nice plays when challenged deep, though.

-Itís obvious the Rams are doing what they can to get Faulk involved in the offense. On second-and-10, Faulk caught a swing pass in the flat and flashed a little vintage Faulk with a quick cutback to his right. Before anyone knew it, Faulk had 11 yards and a first down. If Faulk stays fresh and gets his chances, he should be a solid contributor this year.

-It doesnít matter who is running the ball for the Chargers right now, they are having no problems. Someone named Michael Turner just broke off a 55-yard run followed by Darren Sproles for another 16. This is a bad sign for this defense right now. At the end of the first, San Diego has 126 rushing yards, is up 10-0 and threatening again.


PREGAME

-Rex Tucker is starting at right tackle again. He is joined by Orlando Pace (left tackle), Claude Terrell (left guard), Andy McCollum (center) and Blaine Saipaia (right guard).

-The Chargers made a nice gesture in announcing running back Marshall Faulk. Faulk received a warm reception from San Diego fans in honor of his excellent career at San Diego State.

-There are plenty of Rams fans in the building. Itís not half and half or tilted toward the Rams like it usually is in Arizona, but itís still a nice showing from the Ramsí presence in Southern California.