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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Game Notes: Chargers vs. Titans

Vince Young and BakeSale White are active for the Titans, Kevin Mawae and Benji Olson are not. The Titans, of course, lost WR Roydell Williams and TE Bo Scaife earlier this week. They're going to need Ben Troupe and (gulp) Eric Moulds or Biren Ealy to step up as receiving options.

The only hope for the Titans, though, is for Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch to live in Philip Rivers' lap and force him to do his David Carr happy feet impression at the first sign of pressure. But if the good Philip Rivers shows up, they're dead in the water.

Titans open up in a goofy set with only the center and QB lining up in the middle of the field, and everybody else set out at the sides. And that play was a fiasco.

Titans drive down for a 30-yard field goal, and I get the feeling Jeff Fisher will take that every time.

Rivers is enveloped by Cortland Finnegan and a host of defenders, fumbles the ball, and the Chargers get lucky with Tomlinson falling on it. They better get that pass protection fixed.

Vince Young pressured on back-to-back plays...and he is still down on the field. Looks like a possible concussion after hitting his head on the turf. Better get over to rotoworld to update Young's status.

Another 3-and-out for the Chargers after a chop block pushed the drive back before even beginning. First two series for the Chargers produced 10 total yards.

There's a completion to one of my old sleepers, Ben Troupe. I wouldn't be surprised if Troupe gave the Titans an unexpected shot in the arm today as he's much more physically gifted than injured starter Bo Scaife. He may be a bit of a knucklehead and prone to mental vacations, but there's no doubting his talent.

BakeSale White picking up a few yards at a time as the Titans close out the first quarter marching down the field. One thing to appreciate about Jeff Fisher is that he never waivers from his philosophy. BakeSale is no Eddie George, but he's going to be used the same way: give me 3.4 yards per play, we'll pick up some first downs, chew the clock, and take our chances with our defense.

Chris Brown fumbles again! This one pops out about 10 feet in the air, and the Chargers take over. Jeff Fisher is going to get Brown in a headlock and then chain him to the bench. The Titans are closing in on a 3-to-1 time of possession lead, but that stat can be wiped out in a flash by turnovers. Be scared, Chrissy. Be very scared.

I'm a little worried about Phil Rivers' arm strength, but it's not Todd Collins pop-gun weak. There's a beautiful deep-ish throw over the middle right into Chris Chambers arms for 30 yards. That Chambers trade was widely panned by the stats geeks, but what is the Chargers' record since acquiring him? Playmakers -- offenses crave them.

Rivers with a 50-yard jumpball to Chambers in the endzone, but a great job by Cortland Finnegan to get inside position and grab the ball at its highest point for an interception. Finnegan has really come into his own this year as Pacman Jones' replacement and now has a sack, a forced fumble, and a pick in the first half today.

Titans' rookie WR Chris Davis has five receptions on the season for 38 yards, and he appears to be their #2 WR today. Vince Young has some weapons!

Wide open Vincent Jackson on 3-and-12 for a 32 yard gain. Someone blew coverage on that one, and it's gonna hurt. The Chargers haven't been able to get anything going offensively, but that play could be a turning point.

Whoops. I originally put that Antonio Gates blurb in as a knee injury on rotoworld and had to go back and change it after they announced his return as questionable with a toe injury. Looked at first like an ACL injury when the turf-monster got him.

Biren Ealy had one catch on the season coming into this game. He has two in this series. Moulds has two this series as well. Poor Vince Young has had bottom-of-the-barrel weapons all year, but this is a little ridiculous. Young is playing mistake free football, but he's going to be in trouble if the Titans end up falling behind at some point.

Ben Troupe redeems himself with a first down to get into field goal range after an earlier holding penalty got a play called back. Bironas nails the field goal as time expires, and the Titans have held the Chargers scoreless in the first half for the second time this season. Right now, the Titans are winning this game in the trenches with their offensive and defensive lines dictating the action. Sound familiar with a Jeff Fisher coached team?

Tomlinson's six first half rushing yards were the 2nd lowest in his 114 game career. Hey, he's up to 10 now after a couple of early 2nd half carries.

Rivers hits Chambers with a strike over the middle for a 19-yard pickup. Rivers comes right back with a beautiful deep ball hitting Vincent Jackson in stride down the sideline. Rivers can look so impressive at times, and then turn around and look rotten at others. He might be the most inconsistent QB in the NFL. I mean Eli is an enigma from game to game, but you know never which Rivers will show up even from drive to drive.

Norvert shows no faith in his offensive line, eschewing a 4th-and-1 Tomlinson conversion attempt from the two yard line and turning to the field goal instead. Probably the right move in a 6-pt. ballgame, and it points to the Titans dominance in the run game. Tomlinson is stomping mad about it though.

Titans "#1 WR" Justin Gage has been awfully quiet today in no small part because Antonio Cromartie became one of the top CBs in the league the moment the Chargers plugged him into the starting lineup. Chalk up another one for Chargers' GM and crackerjack drafter A.J. Smith.

Albert Haynesworth, as is his wont, draws an unnecessary roughness call with an unabated hit to the QB. He's a bit of a loose cannon out there, no?

Chargers are starting to generate some real offense behind the passing of Philip Rivers. The tide could be turning here if the Titans don't find a way to cover the Chargers receivers. And just like that, Rivers hits Vincent Jackson with a 25-yard TD. Rivers with a ludicrous 137 passing yards in the 3rd quarter, and it looks like Norvert has adjusted his game at half-time. Nicely done.

Free Ben Troupe! Great over the shoulder catch for 26 yards down the sidelines. Fullback Ahmard Hall with an impressive 11-yard gain after being trapped in the backfield. Vince Young's former teammate at Texas has had a couple of key plays today for big first downs.

Ouch. You just knew the Titans had no chance for a TD once they bogged down inside the red zone, but a Bironas missed field goal? That hurts.

Are the Titans' defensive linemen dog tired? They're getting absolutely stone-walled by the Chargers offensive line in the 2nd half. How did Chris Chambers get that wide open in the seam? The Titans pass defense has completely disintegrated...

Tomlinson ruled just short of the goal-line, but the Chargers are going to challenge it. I don't see them winning, but replay doesn't work an alarming percentage of the time, so you never know...Replay does work here, and Norvert decides to go for the TD time. Tomlinson up and over, drilled and pushed back in mid-air by Tulloch, then into the end zone on second effort with a little help from his offensive lineman. Fisher's turn to challenge...

Chargers turn up the pressure on Vince Young, and the Titans are finished. They're not coming back here.

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