Receiver Sparks Chargers

From Associated Press

Keenan McCardell took his time dressing, carefully buttoning his bright fuchsia shirt and securing his striped tie.

Perhaps he was savoring the moment, thrilled to be part of a team again. Or maybe he was just tired after playing a big role in San Diego’s 17-6 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Charlotte, N.C.

“You like my shirt? You think I can pull this look off?” he asked, his smile as bright as the shirt.


He could after pulling in five catches for 65 yards, including two big grabs to set up LaDainian Tomlinson’s go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, helping the Chargers (4-3) equal their win total from a season ago.

“This was the role I envisioned,” McCardell said. “When you get into the flow of the game, [playing time] really doesn’t matter. You just want to compete and do what you can to help the team win.”

Acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay on Tuesday, McCardell jumped into San Diego’s game plan.

“It is amazing he was able to come in on such a short workload and be able to make the contribution he has,” Coach Marty Schottenheimer said.

Trailing, 6-0, in the third quarter, McCardell had catches of 23 and 18 yards to move the Chargers to the Carolina eight-yard line. Tomlinson scored on the next play, giving San Diego a lead it never relinquished.

Minnesota 20, Tennessee 3 -- With Randy Moss relegated to two snaps of decoy duty, Daunte Culpepper and the Vikings (5-1) ground one out against the Titans (2-5) at Minneapolis.


Culpepper completed 24 of 30 mostly low-risk passes, and an aggressive Viking defense knocked Titan quarterback Steve McNair out of the game.

After throwing 10 touchdowns the last two weeks, Culpepper finished with 183 yards and one score to Marcus Robinson just before halftime. Rookie Mewelde Moore rushed for 138 yards in 20 carries.

McNair hurt his chest -- again -- on the first play of the second quarter.

After going two for five for two yards, McNair threw an incomplete pass and was brought down hard by a strong Minnesota rush. After lying on the turf for a few minutes, he grimaced as he walked slowly off the field.

Billy Volek replaced McNair and went 17 for 36 for 190 yards with three interceptions.

New Orleans 31, Oakland 26 -- Deuce McAllister ran for two short touchdowns, Aaron Brooks threw for 282 yards and a touchdown, and New Orleans ended a three-game losing streak with the win at Oakland.

Joe Horn had nine receptions for 123 yards, and Jerome Pathon added six catches as the Saints (3-4) used a strong second half to send the Raiders (2-5) to their fourth straight defeat.

John Carney kicked a 41-yard field goal with 4:31 left, then Colby Bockwoldt scooped up Carlos Francis’ fumble on the ensuing kickoff and ran it six yards into the end zone for another Saint score.


Ten points in 14 seconds was a nice way for New Orleans to end its first visit to the Oakland Coliseum in seven years.

Brooks was 23 for 39 with a four-yard touchdown pass to Lamont Hall.