4:05 PM ET, October 28, 2007
SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, CA
Despite sprawling wildfires that forced more than 500,000 people to flee Southern California this week, the Chargers (3-3) will play the Texans (3-4) at Qualcomm Stadium as scheduled.
The Chargers canceled practice Monday, then flew to Phoenix on Tuesday night for three days of practice at the Arizona Cardinals' headquarters while they awaited the league's decision on where and when this game would be played.
The date and time of the contest had been in doubt because Qualcomm was being used as a major evacuation center during the wildfires that swept San Diego County. But on Friday, Qualcomm was to close as an evacuation center, allowing the Chargers to play there Sunday.
"Early Friday morning the Chargers informed me that the NFL has decided to play Sunday's game as scheduled at Qualcomm Stadium," Mayor Jerry Sanders said in a press release. "The City will be able to provide sufficient public safety personnel to manage a professional football game without impeding ongoing wildfire recovery efforts."
About 40 people in the organization, including as many as 18 players, had to evacuate their homes. Fifteen players on the current roster were with the team in 2003 when wildfires forced the Chargers to move a Monday night game versus Miami to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
The team's current situation overshadows San Diego's attempt for a third straight victory as it looks to top the .500 mark for the first time since starting 1-0. The Chargers are coming off a bye week and haven't played since a 28-14 victory over Oakland on Oct. 14.
"We're 3-3 and obviously we'd rather be 6-0 at this point," All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates said. "But you know, we're preparing to go to the playoffs, and that's still a situation where we can accomplish that."
Reigning MVP LaDainian Tomlinson enjoyed his most productive day of the season against the Raiders, rushing for 198 yards on 24 carries while matching a career high with four touchdowns on the ground.
Tomlinson, who's rushed for 329 yards and two TDs in his first five games, needs one rushing score to pass Jim Brown for fourth place on the all-time list with 107. Tomlinson ran for 121 yards and a TD in San Diego's 27-20 victory at Houston on Sept. 12, 2004 in the teams' most recent meeting.
The Chargers have scored 69 points in their last two contests after scoring 68 in their first four and should get more potent with receiver Chris Chambers expected to make his San Diego debut. Chambers was acquired in a trade with Miami on Oct. 16.
"He's a big-play receiver, an experienced receiver," San Diego coach Norv Turner said of Chambers, who has 31 receptions for 415 yards this season. "This was a good move for us."
While the offense looks to maintain its recent success, the Chargers defense hopes for another dominating performance after forcing three turnovers and recording five sacks against the Raiders.
Shawne Merriman had 2 1/2 sacks and fellow linebacker Shaun Phillips had two and forced a fumble for the Chargers, who have allowed 17 points in their last two wins after giving up 99 in three straight losses.
It's uncertain which Houston quarterback the Chargers will face. Starter Matt Schaub suffered a bruised hip in a 38-36 loss to Tennessee last Sunday and though he practiced Wednesday, is listed as day-to-day.
"Actually, Matt did a lot more than I thought he would," Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. "I would say it's a big step in the right direction. Matt definitely looked better today."
Schaub, who has completed 68.5 percent of his passes and thrown five TDs with five interceptions in his first season with the Texans, was just 5-for-9 for 23 yards before being injured last Sunday.
Houston had just 34 total yards of offense when backup Sage Rosenfels led the team on a 70-yard scoring drive early in the fourth quarter as the Texans scored 29 points in the final 15 minutes, but fell short.
Rosenfels was 22-for-35 for 290 yards and joined Vinny Testaverde, now 43 and with Carolina, as the only players to throw four fourth-quarter touchdowns. Rosenfels hasn't started since 2005 with Miami.
Houston, which has lost four of five since starting 2-0, will try to avoid a third straight defeat as it looks to reach the .500 mark through eight games for the first time in franchise history. The Texans are 0-2 all-time versus San Diego.
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Los Angeles Chargers
|Avg Points Allowed||26.1||18.4|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||HOU|
|Rush Yds Allowed||HOU|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Los Angeles leads 3-0|
|Sep 12, 2004||HOU 20, LAC 27|
|Sep 15, 2002||HOU 3, @LAC 24|