AFC Wild Card Game: Tennessee at San Diego

Jan 4, 2008 - 3:54 PM
Tennessee Titans (10-6) vs. San Diego Chargers (11-5)
at Qualcomm Stadium, Sunday, 4:30 p.m. EST

Coaches' playoff records: Jeff Fisher, Tennessee, 5-4
Norv Turner, San Diego, 1-1

Last meeting: December 9, 2007 at Nashville, Tennessee
LaDainian Tomlinson scored on a 16-yard touchdown run with 7:29
to play in overtime to lift the Chargers to a 23-17, come-from-
behind victory. San Diego trailed, 17-3, heading into the fourth
quarter before Philip Rivers threw scoring passes to Tomlinson
and Antonio Gates in the final 7 1/2 minutes to force overtime.


Titans offense against Chargers defense
---------------------------------------

Key Matchups: RB LenDale White vs. NFL's 16th-ranked run defense
QB Vince Young vs. NFL's 14th-ranked pass defense
WR Justin Gage vs. CB Antonio Cromartie
LT Michael Roos vs. LB Shawne Merriman
C Kevin Mawae vs. T Jamal Williams

LenDale White rushed for 113 yards on 30 carries when the teams
met a month ago, and the Titans will need similar production
this time around, particularly with quarterback Vince Young ailing
due to a right quadriceps injury. If Young plays, expect San
Diego to stack the box to stop White and let a gimpy Young try to
beat them. Injuries have decimated Tennessee's already weak
receiving corps. Roydell Williams, who is tied for the team lead
55 interceptions, broke an ankle in practice Wednesday and is done
for the season. Tight end Bo Scaife, their third-leading receiver,
also was placed on injured reserve with an injury to his liver.
Justin Gage showed some good chemistry in the season finale with
Kerry Collins, who may start if Young is hobbled.


Chargers offense against Titans defense
---------------------------------------

Key Matchups: RB LaDainian Tomlinson vs. NFL's fifth-ranked run defense
QB Philip Rivers vs. NFL's 10th-ranked pass defense
TE Antonio Gates vs. LB Keith Bulluck
LG Kris Dielman vs. DT Albert Haynesworth
LT Marcus McNeill vs. DE Kyle Vanden Bosch

The Chargers simplified things during their season-ending six-
game winning streak by doing what they do best: Put the ball in
the hands of reigning MVP Tomlinson. In his first four games of
December, Tomlinson rushed for over 100 yards in each game and
amassed seven touchdowns. It's unlikely they'll deviate from
that formula this weekend against the Titans, who sacked quarterback
Rivers five times and briefly knocked him out of the game in the
last meeting. San Diego crushed Tennessee, 40-7, in Week Two of
the 2006 season as Tomlinson rushed for 71 yards and a pair of
touchdowns and backup Michael Turner gained 138 yards. The
Chargers controlled the ball for 38 1/2 minutes. Rivers' favorite
target is Antonio Gates, although Chris Chambers has provided a big-
play threat and has two TD catches in his last two games.


Three keys to the game
----------------------

1) MVP performance: As Tomlinson goes, so goes San Diego. After
stumbling to a 1-3 start under coach Norv Turner, the Chargers
simplified their offense and won 10 of their last 12.

2) Lights out: The Titans need to keep linebacker Shawne Merriman
off their quarterback, whether it be Vince Young or Kerry Collins.

3) White-out conditions: While rain is in the forecast, Tennessee
must string together grind-it-out, clock-eating drives with White
doing the heavy lifting.







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