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Chargers certain they must win

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Nov 6, 2005.

  1. robdog
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    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/chargers/20051106-9999-1s6chargers.html" target="_blank">San Diego Union-Tibune</a>

    By Kevin Acee

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Marty Schottenheimer preaches one idea to his players far more than any other.

    So often does the Chargers head coach declare some variation of this mantra that players hear it in their minds – as they shave, as they drive, as they drift off to sleep.

    One at a time.

    The biggest cliche in sports, Schottenheimer has made his own.

    Few times has it meant more to the Chargers than now, as they prepare to play the New York Jets today at the Meadowlands.

    One game.

    It's all they have. It's all they can afford.

    "This is the second game in our nine-game season," quarterback Drew Brees said.

    That is a reference to Schottenheimer's invention last week that the Chargers' season has been shortened. With passion, he has implored them to stay focused on the game in front of them.

    The coach was testy at times in practice this week, telling his players at one point there was too much "half-assing" and that if they didn't want to be on the field they should go home.

    It would be almost unfathomable for the Chargers not to be frothing today, considering their predicament this season and especially given recent history against the team they play.

    Of the three consecutive Jets victories over the Chargers since 2002, two have wrecked the Chargers' season.

    Many current Chargers were on the team in 2002, when the 2-5 Jets beat the 6-1 Chargers by 31 points at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers won just two more games that season.

    And more than 80 percent of the Chargers' current roster was on hand in the rain this past Jan. 8 when the Jets exulted with a 20-17 wild-card round victory on that same field.

    Chargers players insist there is little extra motivation to beat the Jets beyond how it will help this season. A few Jets players acknowledged it feels good to know they know how to beat the Chargers.

    While the Jets (2-5) have been ruined by injury more than any team in the NFL this year, and it seems unlikely their depleted offense will suddenly spring to life, they remain just two games out of first place in their division.

    "They've got to win; we've got to win," Chargers fullback Lorenzo Neal said.

    The Chargers are 4-4 and have arrived here with many of their key parts limping. With exactly half a season to play, they are two games back in the AFC West and on the fringes of a wild-card race stacked with contenders.

    "We need to get this win to keep pace with (first-place) Denver," Neal said. "This is a big game. There is no other way to look at it."

    A victory today would put the Chargers above .500 for the first time this season and send them energized into their bye week.

    "Hopefully," Brees said, "we can get a big win this week and have a bye week and get some guys rested up and healed up and then start that run and peak and get on a roll there."

    About to play their fifth consecutive opponent that had the previous weekend off, the Chargers will get their rest in the coming week.

    It will be a chance for left tackle Roman Oben's foot to heal enough for him to play and could be the same for linebacker Steve Foley's strained abdominal muscle. Should the sprained ankles of center Nick Hardwick and cornerback Drayton Florence keep them from another game today, a week off is expected to have them on the field for the next game, Nov. 20 at home against the Buffalo Bills.

    "We've got some guys banged up a little bit and everybody's looking for that bye week just to kind of get healed up," Brees said. "But the fact is, this is as close to a must-win as you could get. We've been in this situation before; there's going to be that sense of urgency."

    The thing is, even after the break that will still remain.

    The Chargers will carry this pressure with them into every game for the rest of the season. They likely can afford no more than two losses in their final eight games.

    "We gave all our free passes away," Neal said. "It's either stand up and fight or get knocked out. We're up against it."

    That is because of what has happened – those four close losses that will always linger no matter how hard they try to make them disappear.

    "We let four games slip away to four good teams," guard Kris Dielman said. "Yeah, we've got to forget about it. It's part of the past now. But we've put ourselves in this hole, and now we've got to show the character to get ourselves out of it. We took a good step last week. We've got to beat the Jets, get this bye week, get everybody healthy and come back and keep it rolling."

    Nuts 'n' Bolts
    The Chargers signed tackle Cory Lekkerkerker from the practice squad and released defensive end Dave Ball, who had just one assisted tackle this season.

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