Chargers host overdue MNF date

Associated Press
Published October 10, 2005

SAN DIEGO - A hot Santa Ana wind was blowing out of the desert last week, and the eastern horizon was hazy with smoke from backcountry wildfires.

"Keep our fingers crossed," Chargers quarterback Drew Brees said.

The Chargers know all about wildfires and October games. As they prepared to host their first Monday night game in nine seasons, tonight against Pittsburgh, they were keenly aware of what was going on around them.

Fortunately for all involved, last week's fires weren't catastrophic.

Two years ago this month, the Chargers' game against Miami was moved to Arizona, as Qualcomm Stadium's parking lot was turned into an evacuation center with three deadly wildfires burning out of control in San Diego County.

"It was tough, especially because of all of the things that were going on back here," LaDainian Tomlinson said. "It was tough to go over to Arizona, for one, and then two, to play football."

The Chargers played poorly, losing 26-10. Brees threw three interceptions and was sacked six times.

A much more experienced Brees faces the Steelers tonight, in large part because of what he went through in 2003. The Chargers finished a league-worst 4-12 and the front office all but shoved Brees out the door in the offseason.

But he bounced back last year, leading San Diego to a 12-4 record, the AFC West title and its first playoff appearance in nine years.

Brees has even bounced back this year. He threw three interceptions as the Chargers started 0-2, then ran a high voltage offense to near perfection in wins against the New York Giants and the Oct. 2 41-17 rout at New England. He has four touchdown passes in the past two games, with no interceptions.

NOTABLE: Steelers backup quarterback Tommy Maddox strained his right calf in practice and is doubtful. Charlie Batch, who has played only a handful of downs the past three seasons, is expected to be Ben Roethlisberger's backup.