SI Vault
 
Opening Statement
ALAN SHIPNUCK
September 17, 2007
Week 1 of the NFL season put Super Bowl contenders to the test, and the AFC power with the most to prove answered resoundingly as the Chargers stared down a stiff challenge from the Bears and sent the NFC champs limping home
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
September 17, 2007

Opening Statement

Week 1 of the NFL season put Super Bowl contenders to the test, and the AFC power with the most to prove answered resoundingly as the Chargers stared down a stiff challenge from the Bears and sent the NFC champs limping home

View CoverRead All Articles
1 2

"There's a really nice rhythm to [Turner's] play-calling," said Rivers, in his second season as a starter. "There are times as a quarterback you're hoping for a certain play, and it's funny how often that [play was called] today."

His favorite call came with five minutes to go. Having stopped Chicago on downs, the Chargers faced third-and-six from their 39. "We ran a play-action fake, sending three guys down the field," says Rivers. "It wasn't, Let's play it safe, let's not make a mistake. [It was] Hey, let's make a play. That showed me [Turner] trusted me to make a smart choice." With no one open downfield, Rivers found Tomlinson in the flat for the first down. It was a modest seven-yard gain, but, says Rivers, "I liked what that play meant."

He told this story while walking out of a deserted locker room. Eventually Rivers made his way to the parking lot, where he exchanged pleasantries with Harris, who was waiting to board the Bears' bus. The 295-pound lineman was toting a Louis Vuitton travel bag and was turned out in a pinstripe suit. Back in Chicago, though, the garb of choice is a black T-shirt that hangs in the lockers at Halas Hall. Printed on the back, in large white letters, is UNFINISHED. Below that it reads FEB. 3, 2008, the date of Super Bowl XLII.

One week of football is not definitive, but after a gritty, physical victory—exactly the kind needed to succeed in the postseason—right now the Chargers' defense looks every bit as strong as the Bears'. With its game-breaking offense and reliable kicking game, San Diego seems destined to battle the Colts and the Patriots for supremacy in the AFC. As for the Bears, those T-shirts have suddenly taken on a different meaning. After Sunday's dispiriting loss, this imbalanced team looks more unfinished than ever.

1 2