AP Story: Packers Fall To Chargers 17-3


SAN DIEGO (AP) Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer has high expectations for new quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers didn't disappoint in his debut, throwing for 169 first-half yards and leading two early scoring drives in a 17-3 victory over Green Bay in Saturday night's preseason opener for both teams.

I thought he played excellent,'' Schottenheimer said.He played pretty much like I expect him to.''

The Chargers showed their faith in Rivers, a third-year pro, by letting Drew Brees leave for New Orleans during the offseason.

Cool in the pocket and crisp with his passes, Rivers completed 15-of-21 while playing the entire first half except for the final play. He connected on a 22-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson on the Chargers' opening series to cap a 64-yard drive, then engineered an 18-play, 86-yard scoring march the first time they had the ball in the second quarter.

``He was standing in the pocket, stepping into his passes like he's been doing his whole life,'' said Keenan McCardell, San Diego's leading wide receiver last season.

``Nobody in the huddle had any doubt. He gave you all what you wanted to see,'' added McCardell, who had two receptions for 22 yards in the victory.

Rivers took the game in stride.

We threw a lot of completions, threw a touchdown pass,'' Rivers said.It was a good start. We had some things we didn't do well, but it's early. It's just what you want to do in the first preseason game.''

Packers quarterback Brett Favre, pressured by the San Diego defense for most of the four series he played, was unable to generate much. The loss spoiled the head coaching debut of Green Bay's Mike McCarthy.

The 36-year-old Favre, who pondered retirement in the offseason but decided to return, completed 5 of 10 passes for 66 yards and was sacked twice on consecutive plays in the first quarter. He came out of the game early in the second.

We've got a long way to go,'' Favre said.We weren't very good.''

McCarthy wasn't pleased with his first game at the helm.

We leave here with a sense of reality of how we started our preseason,'' said McCarthy, a former assistant under Schottenheimer at Kansas City.This isn't about me. This is about where we are as a team, and we didn't play the way we're capable of playing.

``It starts with me. I have to get prepared.''

In the first half, before both coaches began wholesale substitutions, the Chargers' defense held the Packers to 89 yards while San Diego's offense churned out 204 yards.

Aaron Rogers, Green Bay's first pick in the 2005 draft and Favre's heir apparent, was 9-of-11 for 124 yards while playing nearly half the game.

The 24-year-old Rivers, a former North Carolina State standout, threw for more yards and equaled his touchdown total in the first half of the exhibition victory than he had during his four career appearances in the NFL regular season combined.

As Brees' backup the past two years, Rivers was 17-of-30 for 148 yards, with one touchdown.

Rivers came to San Diego after he was drafted No. 4 by the New York Giants in 2004. The Chargers took Eli Manning with the first pick, then swapped him to the Giants for Rivers because Manning did not want to play for San Diego.

The 6-foot-5, 228-pound Rivers completed a variety of passes against the Packers.

After Jackson caught a perfectly thrown ball in full stride in the end zone for an apparent 17-yard touchdown 4 minutes into the game, the Packers called for a video replay, and the pass was ruled incomplete because Jackson stepped out of bounds.

No problem for Rivers. After a 5-yard penalty moved the ball back to the 22, the Chargers' quarterback lofted another pass to a diving Jackson in the end zone for an undisputed TD.

San Diego built its lead to 17-0 on a 23-yard field goal by Nate Kaeding late in the third quarter. Green Bay's Billy Cundiff finally put the Packers on the board with a 23-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

San Diego All-Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who rarely plays during the preseason, sat out the game.

Notes: San Diego return specialist Darren Sproles sprained his left ankle in the first quarter and didn't return, and Chargers offensive tackle Jeromey Clary left in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury. Green Bay safety Marviel Underwood went out in the first quarter with a knee injury. ... Back judge Don Dorkowski was hurt in a collision in the first quarter, limped off the field and sat out a couple of series before returning. Field judge Buddy Horton gave Dorkowski a high five as he jogged, still limping, onto the field.

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