Final

Dolphins 23

(6-7, 3-4 away)

Chargers 21

(8-5, 4-3 home)

4:15 PM ET, December 11, 2005

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA 

1 2 3 4 T
MIA 0 3 17 323
SD 7 0 0 1421

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (SD) - 279 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: L. Tomlinson (SD) - 21 CAR, 75 YDS

Receiving: A. Gates (SD) - 13 REC, 123 YDS, 1 TD

Dolphins stun Chargers, stay alive in AFC East

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- At the very least, the San Diego Chargers were lulled to sleep against the Miami Dolphins. Worse, they might have ignored coach Marty Schottenheimer's mantra by looking ahead on their schedule.

It was over when ...
The Dolphins recovered the onside kick in the final seconds of the game after Antonio Gates caught an 8-yard TD pass from Drew Brees with 15 seconds left to pull the Chargers within three.
Game ball goes to ...
The Dolphins' defense, which held LaDainian Tomlinson to 75 yards on 21 carries and no TDs.
ESPN's take ...
Eric Allen Of all the bad losses the Chargers have suffered this season, I believe this one will mean the most to the AFC's playoff picture. This was a terrible loss for the Chargers because this was one of those games they were favored in down the stretch of the season. They needed to get this win and go into Indy with nine wins but instead may have severely hurt their playoff chances. The secondary broke down and hurt this team a great deal.
-- Eric Allen

Whatever the case, the Chargers' playoff push took a body blow from the Dolphins, who pulled a 23-21 upset on Sunday to end San Diego's five-game winning streak.

Gus Frerotte threw two touchdown passes to Chris Chambers in the third quarter and the Dolphins won their third straight to remain alive for the AFC East title.

"We just came out flat," star tight end Antonio Gates said. "We didn't come out playing Charger football. That led them to believe that they can take this game, which they did. Anytime you let a good team like Miami hang around, one or two plays can change a game, and that's exactly what happened."

On paper, this was the most winnable of the last four games for the defending AFC West champion Chargers (8-5).

"We had a great opportunity and we missed it," Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards said.

The Chargers' next two games are on the road, at undefeated Indianapolis and division rival Kansas City, before they finish at home against Denver, which leads the AFC West by two games. The Chargers are behind Jacksonville and Pittsburgh for the two wild-card spots.

"Do we have a tough road? Sure," said Schottenheimer, who ceaselessly preaches the one-game-at-a-time mantra. "But this game doesn't define the season."

Still, the Dolphins (6-7) felt they didn't get the Chargers' best shot.

"Yeah, I think they were looking ahead," said free safety Yeremiah Bell, who forced a critical fumble by Drew Brees late in the game. "Getting a feeling from them, I don't think they really looked at us as competition. They looked like we were just going to come up here and roll over. But we're not going to do that."

Miami's victory kept the two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots from clinching the AFC East. New England won 35-7 at Buffalo.

Gates caught an 8-yard TD pass from Brees with 15 seconds left, but the Dolphins recovered the onside kick.

Chambers was the hero of Miami's 24-23 win against Buffalo a week earlier, in which the Dolphins rallied for 21 points in the fourth quarter. He caught 15 passes for 238 yards, both team records, and scored the winning touchdown with a leaping 4-yard reception on fourth down with six seconds left.

He had eight catches for 121 yards against San Diego. Frerotte was 14-of-22 for 229 yards.

The Dolphins held LaDainian Tomlinson to 75 yards on 21 carries and no TDs. Brees was 35-of-52, both career highs, for 279 yards and two TDs, with one interception. Gates had a career-high 13 catches for 123 yards.

After a lackluster first half by both teams, the Dolphins took control in the third quarter.

Frerotte's 35-yard pass to Chambers put the Dolphins ahead 20-7 with 3:26 left in the quarter, capping a six-play, 87-yard drive. Chambers burned Drayton Florence and was wide open in the end zone.

"Every team has a weakness, and that team, the secondary is a weakness, and that's what we tried to exploit," Frerotte said.

Chambers had more than 100 yards receiving for the third straight game.

"I am in a great rhythm right now," Chambers said. "I am seeing the field a lot better the last half of the season and the chemistry of the whole offense is starting to get better."

San Diego closed to 20-14 with 10:34 left when Brees scored on a 4-yard quarterback draw.

Frerotte came right back, hitting Marty Booker on a 56-yard pass to the San Diego 9, but rookie Ronnie Brown fumbled at the 1 three plays later when he flipped over the pile, with San Diego's Clinton Hart recovering.

But the Chargers lost the ball with 2:31 left when Bell's hit caused Brees to fumble while dropping back to pass, with Kevin Carter recovering at the Chargers' 23.

The call was upheld on the third challenge in the last 7:55. The other challenges came on Brown's fumble, which was upheld, and on a spot on the Chargers' drive, which was overturned. The Chargers then converted on fourth down, four plays before Brees fumbled.

Early in the third quarter, Chargers rookie Darren Sproles fumbled a kickoff and Olindo Mare, who had just kicked a 39-yard field goal, recovered at the San Diego 24. Three plays later, Frerotte hit Chambers for an 8-yard score and a 13-7 lead.

Mare also kicked a 29-yard field goal late in the second quarter, and the Dolphins trailed just 7-3 at halftime, and added a 20-yarder with 1:11 left in the game.

San Diego took a 7-0 lead on Brees' 8-yard pass to Keenan McCardell late in the first quarter.Game Notes
Miami has beaten the Chargers six straight times. ... Mare had the first fumble recovery in his nine-year career.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
MIA
SD
1st Downs1427
Passing 1st downs
917
Rushing 1st downs
38
1st downs from penalties
22
3rd down efficiency
2-1011-19
4th down efficiency
0-03-4
Total Plays4882
Total Yards300341
Yards per play6.34.2
Total Drives1310
Passing229245
Comp-Att
14-2235-52
Yards per pass
10.44.5
Interceptions thrown
01
Sacks-Yards Lost
0-03-34
Rushing7196
Rushing Attempts
2627
Yards per rush
2.73.6
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-40-3
Penalties3-127-49
Turnovers23
Fumbles lost
22
Interceptions thrown
01
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession19:4340:17

Passing Leaders

MIAC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Frerotte14/2222910.4200-0
SDC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brees35/522795.4213-34

Rushing Leaders

MIACARYDSAVGTDLG
Brown11302.709
Williams11282.507
SDCARYDSAVGTDLG
Tomlinson21753.6016
Brees3113.715

Receiving Leaders

MIARECYDSAVGTDLG
Chambers812115.1235
Booker37826.0056
SDRECYDSAVGTDLG
Gates131239.5125
McCardell7588.3112

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERMIASD
sdTD2:44Keenan McCardell, 8 yd pass from Drew Brees (Nate Kaeding kick is good)
Drive info: 15 plays, 62 yds, 7:40
07
SECOND QUARTERMIASD
miaFG3:43Olindo Mare 21 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 57 yds, 3:55
37
THIRD QUARTERMIASD
miaFG11:47Olindo Mare 30 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, 53 yds, 3:06
67
miaTD10:39Chris Chambers, 8 yd pass from Gus Frerotte (Olindo Mare kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 24 yds, 0:57
137
miaTD3:33Chris Chambers, 35 yd pass from Gus Frerotte (Olindo Mare kick is good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 87 yds, 2:44
207
FOURTH QUARTERMIASD
sdTD10:39Drew Brees, 4 yd run (Nate Kaeding kick is good)
Drive info: 14 plays, 73 yds, 7:19
2014
miaFG1:14Olindo Mare 12 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 22 yds, 1:17
2314
sdTD0:17Antonio Gates, 8 yd pass from Drew Brees (Nate Kaeding kick is good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 56 yds, 0:48
2321