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Sun., Jul. 19, 2015 7:30 AM PDT
Chargers get boost from Bolts Believers
Sunday’s events around the NFL assured that the Chargers will have at least one home playoff game in January, and that means Charger fans will have at least one more opportunity to raise a ruckus like they did Sunday during the team’s win over Cincinnati.
“There must have been 10 people on the sideline and I’ve had 10 people since the game say that’s got to be the loudest they’ve ever heard our stadium,” Turner said. “Our fans were unbelievable.”
The Chargers improved to 5-2 at home this season with the victory and 17-6 at Qualcomm Stadium since Turner became head coach in 2007. He doesn’t take lightly the crowd’s ability energize his team and aid them through tight games like Sunday’s.
“It matters,” Turner said. “It’s a big part of being successful. We’ve got a talented team, but when you get to play at home and you get to play in front of our group, it matters.”
The 68,889 fans present made Sunday’s game the most highly attended Chargers game of the season. The effect of the crowd was no more evident than during a late third-quarter drive with the Bengals took penalties on three consecutive plays and eventually had to punt out of their own end zone. The Chargers got great field position out of the drive and turned it into a field goal.
“That’s the kind of enthusiasm we need from our fans because they do help us out a lot,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. “It helps bring out a little extra in you and they need to bring that every Sunday we play here.”
The Bengals played Sunday just four days after the death of teammate Chris Henry. Like all NFL venues Sunday, the Chargers held a moment of silence in recognition of Henry prior to kickoff. Bengals players, coaches and executives wore buttons bearing Henry’s jersey number 15.
While their effort came up short, Turner was extremely impressed with how the organization handled such a tough circumstance.
“I can’t say enough about Cincinnati and the way they responded,” Turner said. “Obviously the week had to be a tough, tough week for them. Losing one of their friends and teammates, it’s a difficult thing to deal with. My hat’s off to Cincinnati and what they were able to do.”
The Chargers gave up 407 yards Sunday, but there were huge defensive plays that proved significant. One came from Tim Dobbins, who saw his most extensive action since suffering a knee injury nine weeks ago in Kansas City.
With 2:32 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Bengals were driving down three points. Carson Palmer completed a short pass to Andre Caldwell, and Dobbins sent the ball sprawling backwards nearly 20 yards. Palmer recovered, but the Bengals had to settle for the tying field goal two plays later rather than taking a shot at the end zone.
Interestingly, Dobbins didn’t know he’d forced a fumble until moments later when he peeled himself off the ground.
“I knew he went to the ground but I didn’t know the ball was out,” Dobbins said. “I didn’t know it until I looked up and saw everyone running for the ball.”
Dobbins led the Chargers with 11 tackles Sunday.
Vincent Jackson’s 108-yard day Sunday put him over the 1,000-yard mark, making him the first Chargers receiver to reach 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons since Tony Martin did so in 1995-96. Jackson also set a new career high with nine touchdown catches and recorded his fifth 100-yard game of the season.
On the play before Nate Kaeding connected on the game-winning field goal, Malcom Floyd caught a 15-yard pass from Philip Rivers to put the Chargers in range. It was a perfect example of a team play, one that worked because 11 men did their jobs.
“(The Bengals) had to make a decision there,” Turner said. “There’s two things you do: you cover and protect the sidelines or you max blitz. They came after us and our guys protected it and left Malcom out there one-on-one. He responded with a great route and Philip threw a great ball.”
It was part of an impressive day from Floyd that saw him catch four passes for 63 yards.
The Chargers reported three injuries from Sunday’s game: center Scott Mruczkowski (ankle), cornerback Quentin Jammer (knee) and defensive end Jacques Cesaire. Their statuses will be updated Monday.