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Chargers looking for payback

September 21, 2008|Bernie Wilson | Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- A shocking start has left the San Diego Chargers thinking less of being a Super Bowl favorite and more of simply getting their first victory.

They lost to Carolina on the last play on opening day, then were victimized by a referee's blown call -- not to mention their own porous defense -- in a loss at division rival Denver.

So with the Chargers desperate to avoid an 0-3 start, who should saunter into town, no doubt eager to test an underperforming defense? None other than the gunslinger and Chargers-beater himself, Brett Favre.

Favre will try to improve to 6-0 lifetime against San Diego when his New York Jets (1-1) visit the Chargers (0-2) on Monday night.

Favre's victories against San Diego came with Green Bay, of course. Three of them were in San Diego, the first one way back in 1993. And the Chargers don't have to dig deep into the film vault to refresh themselves on their last loss to Favre.

In their third game last season, the Chargers felt they'd put away Favre and the Packers at Lambeau Field. But Philip Rivers, who idolized Favre while growing up in Alabama, found out that no lead is safe when Favre's playing.

Trailing by four points, Favre threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings with 2:03 left, putting the Packers ahead in a game they'd win, 31-24.

"Not from lack of confidence in our defense, but I was afraid we left too much time on the clock last year," Rivers said. "I remember I missed a first-down throw to Vincent (Jackson) that could have sealed it, and I thought, 'Man, we just gave maybe one of the best of all time a chance, late in the game at home.' "

Antonio Cromartie might have ended up an All-Pro last season, but he was schooled by Favre.

"They just threw a slant. I didn't squeeze on the route and he just put the ball on the right spot. That was it," Cromartie said. "As a defensive back, you've got to lock on your receiver no matter what. He's a great escape artist out of there from the rush and knows how to get the ball down the field. That's the biggest thing that I've learned."

Not much has changed, other than Favre's team.

"Watching the film, I don't see that he's lost anything," Cromartie said. "I mean, he still has the ability to put the ball in tight places and things like that."

After the Jets turned conservative in losing, 19-10, to the Patriots, some wondered if Favre, the NFL's career leader in several passing categories, is being misused by Coach Eric Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

Then again, Schottenheimer might have something in store for the Chargers, who fired his father, Marty, as head coach in March 2007 because of friction with General Manager A.J. Smith.

Brian Schottenheimer was San Diego's quarterbacks coach from 2002-05.

Favre and his teammates know it could be a highly motivated bunch of Chargers they'll face. "It was heartbreaking the way they've lost," Favre said. "So, I think they have 21 of 22 starters back. Shawne Merriman is out, but they're still very explosive, explosive on defense. Believe me, we'll see their best on Monday night, no doubt about it. For us, we have to look at it as a must-win situation as well."

The Chargers are off to their second straight slow start under Coach Norv Turner. They went 1-3 last year, then ended up in the AFC championship game.

Turner seems to be feeling the heat, and it can't be much fun right now working for Smith, the no-nonsense GM who rarely smiles even during good times.

The day after the Denver loss, Turner bristled when asked how much the defense has been affected by the loss of Merriman, a three-time Pro Bowler, following season-ending knee surgery.

"That's an impossible question to answer," Turner said. "I'm not going to answer your question every week. Shawne's not going to be with us. To get into that discussion is a waste of your time and my time."

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