By G. Montgomery
San Diego - Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer casually strolled into the interview room and said, "its good to be home."
The Chargers hadnt played a game at the Q since September 21. After a long three game road trip the Chargers scheduled October 27th Monday night home game against Miami was moved to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.
Throw in the bye week and it had been exactly seven weeks since their last home appearance. The longest road stretch by any team in league history.
The Chargers fans filled the long absence by beating the drums of discontent over the local sports talk radio airwaves.
Starting Quarterback Drew Brees had struggled mightily throughout the first half of the season and his fading confidence was evident. Brees had thrown five interceptions and no TD passes in his last three games and had managed only one win this season.
Schottenheimers refusal to discuss future starts was a clear indication that the decision to replace his young struggling quarterback with 41 year old Flutie was somewhat contrary to his own beliefs.
"This is not a controversy. Doug started, played well today, and he is probably going to be the starter next week. But, we dont need to go beyond that. We may in fact commit to Doug, but not today". Schottheimer said, when ask about next weeks starter".
Actually, Fluties performance against the Viking is certain to be rewarded with another start. The 1984 Heisman Trophy winner was almost perfect. Making his first start since the final game of the 2001season.
Flutie rushed 6 times for 18 yards and 2 touchdowns, he completed 21 of 29 passes for 248 yards and 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. "He was extremely accurate. The ball came out quick and he was very decisive in his reads.
Clearly, it was a very impressive performance; there is no doubt about that. I wouldnt take that away from him," said Schottenheimer. The team averaged 8.0 yards per play.
The 41 year old Flutie had four successful drives of 63, 85, 68 and 66 yards in the first half. Flutie seemed to magically energize the whole team providing them the ability to make big plays at will. Fluties first TD was a 3 yard toss to David Boston on a corner fade. On the next possession LaDainian Tomlinson sliced through the Viking defense and sprinted to a 73 yard TD.
Tomlinson had another romp of 55 yards in the fourth quarter and finished with 162 yards on 16 carries. "I believe in the magic, Flutie magic," said Tomlinson. "He played awesome. Doug Flutie, hes just amazing. He unbelievable."
The Chargers 42-28 victory over Minnesota gave the slumping Vikings their third straight loss after a 6-0 start. "We just did not do enough. Offensively, we had two turnovers in the red-zone. We just have to stay together and weather the storm.
Like I always say, tough times are going to come and go, but tough people are going to learn. I have all the confidence in the world that we have a tough team," said Daunte Culpepper. Culpepper was 32 0f 44 for 370 yards passing, 6 rushes for 42 yards and 1 interception.
A sound days work for most teams, but the Vikings defense had little success stopping any of its last three opponents. "Well, until we can figure a way to stop somebody and get off the field on defense and get our offense back on the field, its going to be tough to turn it around.
Right now were not playing with the same confidence and intensity on defense that we played with early in the season." Said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Tice. The Chargers, played the best game of the season under the direction of the oldest and smallest guy on the field. It may not last for ever, but for now the the Bolts are inspired by Fluties Magic.
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