Source: <a href="http://www.pe.com/sports/football/stories/PE_Sports_Local_D_ja_col_15.18077d85.html" target="_blank">The Press-Enterprise</a>
By Jim Alexander
SAN DIEGO - In their hour of need, positioned on the playoff precipice, the Chargers can at least be assured that they'll get a little extra support this week.
Yes, the surviving members of the 1972 Dolphins, scattered across the country, figure to Show Us Their Lightning Bolts when the Chargers face the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
(And if that doesn't work, the old guys may be waving Seattle Seahawks pennants and wearing Shaun Alexander jerseys the following week. It's really a quaint little NFL custom, the current record-holders trying to maintain a shred of relevancy by rooting against the contenders to their throne.)
The 13-0 Colts are playing for history. Yet they also realize that they could match the '72 Dolphins -- who went 17-0 while playing a 14-game regular-season -- and still not reach their ultimate goal, the Super Bowl trophy that has eluded their grasp the past two Januarys in the snow and slush of Foxboro, Mass.
So in one sense the pressure's off of them for a while, even while the fans and media are wrapped up in the chase for perfection. The Colts know they're headed for the postseason, they know they'll have a first-round bye, and they know that the road to Detroit on Feb. 5 runs through the RCA Dome.
Plus, as Colts coach Tony Dungy said during a conference call interview, "There are very few times you're going to get on a ride like this. We might as well have fun with it."
For the 8-5 Chargers, there is no certainty any more, and they have themselves to thank. Last Sunday's 23-21 loss to Miami, in a game that they should have had wrapped up by the start of the fourth quarter, put their post-season hopes in peril.
"We obviously recognize that throughout this season, we haven't left ourselves a whole lot of wiggle room," Coach Marty Schottenheimer was saying during Wednesday's media session. "As you get down (to the end of) the season, a loss like Sunday's makes it clear that we've got to get our act together and play the way we can play."
So, asked ESPN field producer Sherry Greenberg, do the Chargers enter Sunday's game in a desperate situation?
"Desperate is your word," Schottenheimer snapped. "It's not my word. And I'm an English major."
Well, let's see. One definition of desperate is "so drastic or reckless as to be suitable only for a last resort." Another is "extremely difficult, serious or dangerous."
The Chargers face a must-win game against a team that hasn't lost yet, has outscored its opponents 392-180 and has won 12 straight and 15 of its past 16 in its own building, which is where Sunday's game will be played.
Sounds pretty desperate to me.
"There's a lot of reasons to be motivated for this game," quarterback Drew Brees said. "We feel we have to win because of the situation we're in.
"I still feel like we control our own destiny. If we win our next three, we're in. I don't care what any of the other teams do. If we take care of business, things will work out."
Maybe Brees hasn't been paying close enough attention. Even if the Chargers win out, somebody else will have to beat Denver for them to even tie for the AFC West title. And somebody will have to beat Pittsburgh to give them a shot at a wild-card berth.
But, no, it's not a desperate situation, Brees said.
And when linebacker Donnie Edwards was asked the same question, he responded, "Desperate?"
Then he shrugged.
LaDainian Tomlinson didn't really like to use the word, either. But, he conceded, "All of 'em are desperate. We've got to win every game we play the rest of the way."
Maybe these guys only associate "desperate" with the ladies of Wisteria Lane. Or maybe their touchiness over semantics involves the implication that a desperate team will go away from its game plan, take too many chances and dig itself an even deeper hole.
Then again, when Brees talked about the Chargers' intense preparation for this game -- including the line, "if you don't get motivated for this club, I don't know how you ever do" -- that also carried an obvious implication. Judging from last Sunday's performance, they clearly didn't prepare well enough and weren't sufficiently motivated against Miami.
Yes, it's possible that the Chargers could summon a superior effort and beat the Colts this Sunday. But if they do, yet still miss the playoffs, what will it have gained them?
Besides, of course, the undying gratitude of the '72 Dolphins.