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Miami at San Diego

Dolphins damage Chargers' playoff push with stunning win

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

SAN DIEGO -- At the very least, the San Diego Chargers were lulled to sleep against the Miami Dolphins. Worse, they might have ignored coach Marty Schottenheimer's mantra by looking ahead on their schedule.

Whatever the case, the Chargers' playoff push took a body blow from the Miami Dolphins, who pulled a 23-21 upset on Sunday to end San Diego's five-game winning streak.

Gus Frerotte threw two touchdown passes to Chris Chambers in the third quarter and the Dolphins won their third straight to remain alive for the AFC East title.

"We just came out flat," star tight end Antonio Gates said. "We didn't come out playing Charger football. That led them to believe that they can take this game, which they did. Anytime you let a good team like Miami hang around, one or two plays can change a game, and that's exactly what happened."

On paper, this was the most winnable of the last four games for the defending AFC West champion Chargers (8-5).

"We had a great opportunity and we missed it," Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards said.

The Chargers' next two games are on the road, at undefeated Indianapolis and division rival Kansas City, before they finish at home against Denver, which leads the AFC West by two games. The Chargers are behind Jacksonville and Pittsburgh for the two wild-card spots.

"Do we have a tough road? Sure," said Schottenheimer, who ceaselessly preaches the one-game-at-a-time cliche. "But this game doesn't define the season."

Still, the Dolphins (6-7) felt they didn't get the Chargers' best shot.

"Yeah, I think they were looking ahead," said free safety Yeremiah Bell, who forced a critical fumble by Drew Brees late in the game. "Getting a feeling from them, I don't think they really looked at us as competition. They looked like we were just going to come up here and roll over. But we're not going to do that."

Miami's victory kept the two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots from clinching the AFC East. New England won 35-7 at Buffalo.

Gates caught an 8-yard TD pass from Brees with 15 seconds left, but the Dolphins recovered the onside kick.

Chambers was the hero of Miami's 24-23 win against Buffalo a week earlier, in which the Dolphins rallied for 21 points in the fourth quarter. He caught 15 passes for 238 yards, both team records, and scored the winning touchdown with a leaping 4-yard reception on fourth down with 6 seconds left.

He had eight catches for 121 yards against San Diego. Frerotte was 14-of-22 for 229 yards.

The Dolphins held LaDainian Tomlinson to 75 yards on 21 carries and no TDs. Brees was 35-of-52, both career highs, for 279 yards and two TDs, with one interception. Gates had a career-high 13 catches for 123 yards.

After a lackluster first half by both teams, the Dolphins took control in the third quarter.

Frerotte's 35-yard pass to Chambers put the Dolphins ahead 20-7 with 3:26 left in the quarter, capping a six-play, 87-yard drive. Chambers burned Drayton Florence and was wide open in the end zone.

"Every team has a weakness, and that team, the secondary is a weakness, and that's what we tried to exploit," Frerotte said.

Chambers had more than 100 yards receiving for the third straight game.

"I am in a great rhythm right now," Chambers said. "I am seeing the field a lot better the last half of the season and the chemistry of the whole offense is starting to get better."

San Diego closed to 20-14 with 10:34 left when Brees scored on a 4-yard quarterback draw.

Frerotte came right back, hitting Marty Booker on a 56-yard pass to the San Diego 9, but rookie Ronnie Brown fumbled at the 1 three plays later when he flipped over the pile, with San Diego's Clinton Hart recovering.

But the Chargers lost the ball with 2:31 left when Bell's hit caused Brees to fumble while dropping back to pass, with Kevin Carter recovering at the Chargers' 23.

The call was upheld on the third challenge in the last 7:55. The other challenges came on Brown's fumble, which was upheld, and on a spot on the Chargers' drive, which was overturned. The Chargers then converted on fourth down, four plays before Brees fumbled.

Early in the third quarter, Chargers rookie Darren Sproles fumbled a kickoff and Olindo Mare, who had just kicked a 39-yard field goal, recovered at the San Diego 24. Three plays later, Frerotte hit Chambers for an 8-yard score and a 13-7 lead.

Mare also kicked a 29-yard field goal late in the second quarter and the Dolphins trailed just 7-3 at halftime, and added a 20-yarder with 1:11 left in the game.

San Diego took a 7-0 lead on Brees' 8-yard pass to Keenan McCardell late in the first quarter.

Notes

  • Miami has beaten the Chargers six straight times.
  • Mare had the first fumble recovery in his nine-year career.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Miami does a solid job containing LaDainian Tomlinson, who finishes with 75 total yards.
 
Miami does a solid job containing LaDainian Tomlinson, who finishes with 75 total yards. (Getty Images)
 

 

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Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
TDKeenan McCardell, 8 Yd pass from Drew Brees (Nate Kaeding kick is good), 2:40. Drive: 15 plays, 62 yards in 7:44.
2ND QUARTER
FGOlindo Mare 29 Yd, 3:39. Drive: 9 plays, 57 yards in 3:59.
3RD QUARTER
FGOlindo Mare 39 Yd, 11:43. Drive: 8 plays, 53 yards in 3:17.
TDChris Chambers, 8 Yd pass from Gus Frerotte (Olindo Mare kick is good), 10:35. Drive: 3 plays, 24 yards in 1:01.
TDChris Chambers, 35 Yd pass from Gus Frerotte (Olindo Mare kick is good), 3:26. Drive: 6 plays, 87 yards in 2:51.
4TH QUARTER
TDDrew Brees, 4 Yd run (Nate Kaeding kick is good), 10:34. Drive: 13 plays, 73 yards in 7:52.
FGOlindo Mare 20 Yd, 1:11. Drive: 7 plays, 21 yards in 1:20.
TDAntonio Gates, 8 Yd pass from Drew Brees (Nate Kaeding kick is good), 0:15. Drive: 8 plays, 56 yards in 0:56.
Players of the Game
New Orleans

D. Brees
Att 52
Comp 35
Yds 279
TD 2

G. Frerotte
Att 22
Comp 14
Yds 229
TD 2
 
Miami
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
G. Frerotte14/2222920
RushingATTYDSTDLG
R. Brown113009
R. Williams112807
G. Frerotte413014
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
C. Chambers8121235
M. Booker378056
L. Diamond118018
R. McMichael21208
San Diego
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
D. Brees35/5227921
RushingATTYDSTDLG
L. Tomlinson2175016
D. Brees31115
L. Neal2605
M. Turner1404
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
A. Gates13123125
K. McCardell758112
E. Parker437016
R. Caldwell429010
L. Neal52107
J. Peelle111011
L. Tomlinson1000
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
NO 17 Final
ATL 36
DET 13 Final
GB 16
BAL 10 Final
DEN 12
KC 28 Final
DAL 31
SF 3 Final
SEA 41
NYG 26 Final
PHI 23
WAS 17 Final
ARI 13
HOU 10 Final
TEN 13
CHI 9 Final
PIT 21
OAK 10 Final
NYJ 26
STL 13 Final
MIN 27
IND 26 Final
JAC 18
CLE 20 Final
CIN 23
TB 20 Final
CAR 10
NE 35 Final
BUF 7