NC Times: Chargers end meekly as Brees is hurt

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

SAN DIEGO —- Quarterback Drew Brees dislocated his right shoulder, a persistent rain soaked the Chargers’ most-dedicated fans and the Denver Broncos defeated the bumbling Bolts 23-7 at Qualcomm Stadium.

Other than that, how did your Saturday afternoon go, Chargers?

“Losing your last three out of four games, well, it’s incredible,'’ running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. “I don’t know where we go from here, but I think we need to have a gut check.'’

The Chargers ended a disappointing year with a knot in their stomach. After falling short of staying playoff eligible the previous week, the Chargers (9-7) couldn’t snatch their latest goal: winning their 10th game of the season.

Instead, they lost their second straight and fourth home game of the year, which are among the reasons the Chargers’ season is kaput.

And now an offseason that promises to include massaging a roster which fell short could be complicated with Brees’ injury to his throwing shoulder. There’s a fear Brees tore his labrum, which would require corrective surgery. The labrum is a ring of cartilage that helps stabilize the joint.

“It’s possible, yes, based on the labrum,'’ coach Marty Schottenheimer said. “The dislocation came back in on its own, but we have to do further study to see the status of the labrum.'’

Brees exited with about three minutes left in the second quarter, after getting blindsided in the end zone by John Lynch on a safety blitz. Lynch smacked the ball from Brees, and it bounced just past the goal line, where Brees dived into a pile trying to recover it. Brees was struck by Gerard Warren and Karl Paymah.

It was immediately clear Brees’ shoulder was injured, in the manner in which he retreated to the sidelines.

After being examined by team doctor David Chao and trainer James Collins, Brees walked to the locker room and didn’t return. Brees declined to speak with the media after the game, leaving the stadium with his arm in a sling.

The Broncos (13-3) converted Brees’ turnover into the second of Tatum Bell’s three rushing touchdowns, a 1-yarder that gave the Broncos a 14-0 edge. Earlier in the quarter, Bell scored from 6 yards.

Philip Rivers, who had thrown eight passes in two years, entered to a loud ovation at the 3:16 mark and marched the Chargers to a touchdown, going 69 yards on 10 plays.

On fourth down from the Denver 6-yard line, Tomlinson ran around the left side before diving in for his 20th touchdown of the season. He surpassed Chuck Muncie’s single-season team mark.

Initially, Schottenheimer sent in Nate Kaeding for a field-goal attempt. But after the officials reset the play clock, Schottenheimer flipped his decision and summoned the offense. Tomlinson made his coach look smart with his first score since his game-winner in overtime Nov. 26 on the road against the Washington Redskins.

How did Rivers look? Like someone who was a year between significant snaps.

“I wasn’t able to get it done today,'’ said Rivers, who was 12-of-22 for 115 yards and an interception. “I made some good plays and had some poor ones.'’

Lynch, a Torrey Pines High graduate, stuck again in the third quarter, this time separating the ball from Rivers’ grasp in the end zone on another blitz. Shane Olivea recovered it, good for a Broncos safety that stretched their lead to 16-7.

“You can’t hold the ball back there, backed up, when you know Lynch and those guys are coming off the backside,'’ Rivers said. “Those are mistakes you cannot make since middle school football and I know better. Those are things that I learn from.'’

The Chargers had quite an education the past month. The lessons? Their offense isn’t as reliable as believed. The front line showed more holes than it did opening holes. Their run defense was gashed for 301 yards in two weeks. Their bravado, which led to a confident arrogance, was inflated.

“I think we will probably take the past two years with the 12-4 and 9-7 and search within ourselves and ask, ‘what were the problems?’ ‘’ Tomlinson said.

Said linebacker Randall Godfrey: “I don’t where you point the finger to this year. We just had so much talent; this team is too talented not to be in the playoffs. They ain’t no way this team, should be 9-7. No way.'’