Bears offense stalls during opening loss

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By The Associated Press

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Chargers didn’t look like world-beaters. Against Rex Grossman and the bumbling Chicago Bears, they didn’t have to.

LaDainian Tomlinson and the Chargers finally took control of a sloppy season opener, with the reigning NFL MVP throwing for one touchdown and rushing for another in a 14-3 win over the defending NFC champion Bears.

With expectations high for both teams, it was far from the marquee matchup that hyped-up fans expected. And if it was a Super Bowl preview, well, imagine how bad the ratings would be.

“I told the guys that they were going to make a mistake somewhere and when they did it was our job to capitalize on it,” Tomlinson said.

The Bears, who topped the NFC last year at 13-3 before losing in the Super Bowl to Indianapolis, were nothing short of brutal with four turnovers and their fewest points since a 22-3 loss at Jacksonville on Dec. 12, 2004, during Lovie Smith’s first season as head coach. Two of the turnovers set up the game’s only touchdowns.

“When we’re playing at our best, those mistakes don’t happen and tonight definitely wasn’t our night,” said Grossman, who was a pedestrian 12-for-23 for 145 yards and an interception. “We had all the opportunities in the world. Our defense gave us a chance to win this game.”

The Chargers, an NFL-best 14-2 in 2006 before their playoff pratfall against New England, had two turnovers and allowed three sacks.

Still, Norv Turner came away a winner in his debut as Chargers head coach, raising his overall head coaching record with three teams to 59-82-1.

“This was a championship-type game,” San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers said. “This was a game we didn’t win last year. L.T.’s not going to rush for 170 yards every game. It’s about winning.”

Tomlinson threw a 17-yard TD pass to All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates with 45 seconds left in the third quarter, then scored on a 7-yard run with 9:09 left to play.