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Battle Leads Strong Ground Game for Bolts
He didn’t touch the ball until the end of the third quarter, but Jackie Battle made sure he made the most of his opportunity. The 6-foot-2, 238-pound bruising back carried the ball 14 times for a team-high 68 yards and two touchdowns as the Chargers defeated the Titans 38-10.
“I just want to contribute in any way that I can,” he said in the locker room following the win. ”So it feels good to get out there and help out on offense.”
Battle's first carry came on a 3rd-and-1. The six-year vet showed his rough and tumble style immediately, bursting through the line for a 10-yard gain to keep the drive alive. The series would eventually end with Battle diving over the goal line – as well as a gaggle of defensive linemen - from two yards out to give the Bolts a 31-10 lead.
“I’m just thinking ‘Don’t get hit!’”, he said when describing what it’s like to fly over the line with reckless abandon. “I just close my eyes and hope I don’t get hit. I’m just trying to get over the line.”
Looking to keep the clock running with a big lead, head coach Norv Turner entrusted Battle as the team’s primary back down the stretch. Battle not only rewarded his coach by churning out first down after first down, but he bullied his way into the end zone for his second score of the day with 1:13 remaining in the game. But rather than take credit for his impressive performance, Battle was quick to thank his linemen for creating the lanes to run through.
“I think that the offensive line really did a lot,” he said. “They looked really good up front. There were some pretty big holes, and there were some great one-one-one situations with the safeties.”
Quarterback Philip Rivers had the best view in the house watching Battle ram through the line of scrimmage, and he came away raving about the running back.
“People have to realize, Jackie’s big!” exclaimed Rivers. “I wouldn’t want to tackle him. He can really run, so you see him as just a speed guy, but he’s a big guy who can really run downhill. And two times, we didn’t block the safety and he just took care of him.”
Overall, the Chargers ground game bounced back from a disappointing opening week against the Raiders to amass 148 yards on the ground. The team had struggled early on in the contest until Le’Ron McClain sparked the rushing attack with a 17 yard run on 2nd-and-16, carrying four Titan defenders on his back for the first down.
“It was a good call,” said McClain. “I knew coach was going to call it when we got backed up, so I was just getting ready for it. I knew we were going to have that back side cut, so I just went with it. I ran over a few guys and it kind of got us going. (Curtis) Brinkley had a big gain on the next play, so it got us going. Coach always tells us that you never know what play is going to get us going, and that was the play today.”
Nonetheless, the story of the day was the job Battle did, and McClain was eager to praise his teammate as well.
“Jackie is a guy you really have to watch out for,” he said with a grin on his face. “He’s a great runner. Just being with him in KC last year I got a sniff of it, and he’s a hard guy to tackle. He showed that today. We put some good film on tape for other teams to see that we’re going to be physical and a downhill team.”