SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Got Flutie? The San Diego Chargers do, and they
finally used him from the start of a game.
The payoff was phenomenal.
Question on the Vikings: Did the Vikings peak too soon?
The Vikings didn't peak too soon, they just ran into three exceptionally hungry football teams. The three teams they've lost to (New York Giants, Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers) were all teams that needed a big win. This is still a good football team, and it will be aided by the remaining schedule.
Question on the Chargers: How is it that new quarterbacks always seem to spark their teams?
As shown in Denver, a new quarterback doesn't always mean a spark in the team. But Doug Flutie did a great job getting in there and taking advantage of his opportunity. His particular style gives his team a chance to stay in the game and be competitive.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
Two weeks after turning 41, Doug Flutie juked his way to two
touchdowns and threw for two more in his first start in nearly two
years, leading the San Diego Chargers to a stunning 42-28 win over
the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
The big performance from the pint-sized Flutie and two touchdown
runs by LaDainian Tomlinson -- including a 73-yarder, his longest
career TD -- injected some excitement into an otherwise dismal
season for the Chargers (2-7).
Tomlinson, who was just 5 when Flutie won the 1984 Heisman
Trophy, raved about his quarterback.
"I believe in magic, Flutie magic," Tomlinson said. "He
played awesome. Doug Flutie, he's just amazing. He's
Flutie said that age "is just a number. I feel as good as I did
when I was 30, that's for sure," he said. "It was fun. I had a
blast. It was an emotionally draining day."
Coach Marty Schottenheimer refused to second-guess himself for
taking so long to bench the ineffective Drew Brees in favor of the
energetic Flutie, whose scrambling ability has kept him playing pro
football for 19 years despite being just 5-foot-10.
"I'm not going to get involved in musical chairs with the
quarterback," he said. "It can destroy your team."
Or in this case, double a team's win total for the season.
Schottenheimer would only say that Flutie "probably" will
start next Sunday at Denver.
"Clearly, it was a very impressive performance,"
"The way Doug played today, it's hard to call it a quarterback
controversy," Tomlinson said.
The Chargers had no turnovers.
"Guys just made plays. We didn't have the mistakes," Flutie
said. "They weren't the best defense in the league -- let's not get
too carried away."
Flutie's second rushing touchdown might have been his most
impressive moment of the day. On second-and-7 from the Minnesota
13, he fumbled the snap, picked it up and ran straight up the
middle before sidestepping safety Brian Russell and diving into the
end zone for a 42-21 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Flutie shook his head, as if wondering whether it was all real.
"It was one of those days where things went right," Flutie
Flutie got a hug on the sideline from Brees, who was benched
after throwing five interceptions and no TD passes in the last
The Vikings didn't sell Flutie short.
"He's 41 years old but he still plays like a young kid,"
linebacker Henri Crockett said.
"He kept them on the field," Vikings quarterback Daunte
Culpepper said. "I have a lot of respect for him."
The 42 points were the most for the Chargers since they beat
Miami 45-20 on Dec. 27, 1993, a span of 153 games. Their 458 yards
were a season-high.
Minnesota (6-3) lost its third straight game. Culpepper
completed 32 of 44 passes for a career-high 370 yards and four
touchdowns, which tied his career-high. Randy Moss had 11 catches
for 120 yards and one touchdown, a 4-yarder.
The Chargers allowed 460 yards, but had two second-half
takeaways, including intercepting Culpepper in the end zone late in
Flutie was 21-of-29 for 248 yards and no interceptions in his
first start since 2001. Tomlinson had 162 yards on 16 carries.
Flutie's first scoring run was pretty impressive, too. On
third-and-goal from the 3 in the second quarter, Flutie dropped
back, dodged defensive end Lance Johnstone and then broke for the
end zone. He put a Tomlinson-like move on Kevin Williams at the 2
and scored for a 21-7 lead.
He jumped as high as a 5-foot-10 player can, then spiked the
Flutie picked up where he left off a week earlier, when he
relieved Brees in the fourth quarter at Chicago and led the
Chargers on their only scoring drive in a 20-7 loss.
The Chargers scored on all four possessions in the first half,
matching their TD total from the last three games combined. In
leading 28-14 at halftime, they scored more points than they did
total in all but one game previously this year.
Tomlinson's 73-yard TD run came after he took a pitch from
Flutie and raced down the left sideline, leaving the last defender
grasping at air at the 20.
The Chargers, last in the NFL in third-down conversions,
were 6-of-9. ... Chargers C Cory Raymer broke his right hand and DE
Raylee Johnson sprained his left foot. ... The Vikings were
penalized 10 times for 107 yards.