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Chargers Recall Physical Game With Titans in 2007

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Don't expect any Christmas cheer when the San Diego Chargers visit the Tennessee Titans on Friday night.

Two years ago, the Chargers won in overtime at Tennessee in a tough, nasty game. Several players were hurt, and four players were fined a total of $32,500.

San Diego's Shawne Merriman sprained his left knee, and he and fellow outside linebacker Shaun Phillips still think it was a cheap shot. Five weeks after that game, the Chargers beat the Titans again, in the playoffs in San Diego.

"They're a physical team," Phillips said Monday. "They thought they could punk us and we obviously aren't going to get punked."

Punked, as in the Titans tried to intimidate the Bolts, Phillips said.

"But that's Jeff Fisher's style of play," he said, referring to the Titans' coach. "That's the type of football he plays. That's how he coaches. He wants tough guys, he wants guys that go out there and get physical and get nasty and get after it and try to intimidate the opponent. That's just his style of play. You've got to love a guy for that."

Phillips expects the same kind of game when the AFC West champion Chargers (11-3) try to win their 10th straight game and lock up the No. 2 playoff seed against a Titans team barely alive in the playoff hunt. Tennessee is 7-7.

"I don't know if there's going to be any hugs and gift exchanges going on," Phillips said. "There'll probably be some elbows and knees going on. But it'll be fun. We look forward to the challenge of stopping Chris Johnson and Vince Young."

Johnson, the NFL's leading rusher, had his ninth straight 100-yard game in Sunday's 27-24 overtime win over Miami. Young has led the Titans to seven wins in eight games.

The Chargers clinched their fourth straight division title with Sunday's 27-24 win against Cincinnati. The Chargers would love to get the No. 2 seed so they can take advantage of a first-round bye.

The Titans said Monday they have lost two starting defenders to season-ending injuries with top tackler Keith Bulluck out with a torn left ACL, and linebacker David Thornton having surgery to repair his shoulder and pectoral muscle.

Phillips was one of the players who was fined after that 2007 game, getting dinged $7,500 for a horse-collar tackle.

Titans linemen Kevin Mawae and David Stewart were fined for a late hit on Merriman.

"We've moved on," Mawae said Monday when asked about any lingering ill feelings from those two physical games.

"We played the Chargers once every couple of years. ... It's not been a topic of discussion. We have enough issues in house not to worry about what happened two years ago. If motivation is fuel for them, so be it. It's a whole new ballgame, a whole new set of circumstances, and the stakes are a little bit different."

Merriman said this game is bigger than him still being mad. But he still has strong opinions about the 2007 game and the Titans.

"It's going to be a physical game," he said. "How much extra stuff that's going on is not going to depend on us. It's always going to be on them because that is the kind of guys they are. Just the extra, after the whistle, or do something so you will retaliate and see if we will get a penalty, standing over the pile, they will kick you over it. That is just the way they are."

Merriman missed the next game after the 2007 regular-season game against the Titans, played in the final two games and all three of San Diego's postseason games. He played in the 2008 season-opener, then had reconstructive knee surgery and missed the rest of the year.

"You don't go after specific players or do things that jeopardize careers. And that is the kind of guys they are," Merriman said.

NOTES: Coach Norv Turner said C Scott Mruckzkowski had an MRI on his injured right ankle and will miss Friday night's game. ... The Chargers will see if Nick Hardwick is ready to return after being sidelined since having ankle surgery following the season opener. If Hardwick can't go, Dennis Norman will start. Turner said he thinks CB Quentin Jammer (knee) and defensive end Jacques Cesaire (elbow) will be able to play.

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