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Kaeding, Goff hungry for Super Bowl

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Jun 17, 2007.

  1. robdog
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    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://www.hawkcentral.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070615/HAWKS0104/706150315/1053/HAWKS" target="_blank">Hawk Central</a>

    By Andy Hamilton

    <img src="http://www.bolttalk.com/images/goff01.jpg" title="Mike Goff" alt="Mike Goff" align="right" height="227" width="196" />Five months later, the sting still lingers for the San Diego Chargers.

    Five months later, the mere mention of last season brings back the memories of the abrupt conclusion, not the remarkable beginning, middle and everything leading up to the end.

    "It's disappointing on so many different levels," said offensive lineman Mike Goff, one of three former Iowa players on last year's San Diego roster and one of the handful of Chargers in town this weekend for the second annual Nate Kaeding Drive-Putt-Kick Golf Tournament. "There are so many different things you can sit there and say, 'If this would've happened.'"

    Like if the Chargers hadn't turned the ball over four times in a 24-21 season-ending loss to the New England Patriots. Or if they hadn't blown a 14-3 first-half lead or let a 21-13 advantage slip away in the final five minutes. Or if Marty Schottenheimer had sent Kaeding out for a 47-yard field goal try in the first half rather than keeping his offense on the field for a failed fourth-and-11.

    Then maybe the Chargers wouldn't have needed Kaeding to rescue them with a 54-yard field goal that could've forced overtime if it hadn't come up short, and maybe the Chargers could've held the Lombardi Trophy and worn Super Bowl rings that now belong to the Indianapolis Colts.

    And then they wouldn't be left with this hollow feeling five months after a season when they posted the NFL's best record and the best in team history at 14-2, finished the regular season with a 10-game winning streak and put nine players in the Pro Bowl, which ended with Kaeding making a game-winning field goal.

    "I've been playing sports forever, it's tough," said Kaeding, a former West High and Hawkeye star. "It's one of those paradoxes where you try to go out and win every game, but in the end there's only one team, the Colts, that get to hold up the trophy. No matter if you're playing Little League baseball or high school athletics, there's going to be one team that's happy and every other team that's going to be upset, whether you're second place or 32nd place in the NFL, it's tough.

    "We were 14-2, had a dream regular season, and before we know it, it's over and we didn't reach the ultimate goal. But we have the kind of nucleus of talent that if we keep performing like we have and get to that tournament, eventually we'll win it."

    All the proof Kaeding needs is in the past. Before the Colts won the Super Bowl, they failed in the playoffs the previous year when the Pittsburgh Steelers stunned Indianapolis, which rolled through the regular season at 14-2.

    Before that, the Steelers swept through the 2004 regular season at 15-1 and took a 15-game winning streak into the AFC championship game only to lose to New England.

    "You look at Indianapolis and Pittsburgh the year before, and they were bumping their heads against the wall for three or four years before they were actually able to make that next step," Kaeding said. "We've got the guys, the talent; we've just got to keep moving."

    If recent history repeats itself, the Chargers will encounter a few more stumbling blocks during the regular season and reach the pinnacle in the playoffs.

    "A lot of people will say the team that had the best record in the league faltered in the playoffs and then came back with a mediocre season and ended up winning the Super Bowl," Goff said. "I don't buy into that. You want to win as many games -- 16-0 is what you want. Looking at it, 14-2, that's hard to do. Like Pittsburgh, when it went 15-1 and lost in the (AFC) championship game, it happens. What you need to do is learn from what you did wrong and correct it to get to the next level."

    Kaeding and Goff believe the pieces are in place for the Chargers to reach the next level, and there were reminders nearly everywhere they turned Thursday night.

    Kaeding, Goff, former Hawkeye defensive lineman Derreck Robinson, long-snapper David Binn and punter Mike Scifres were among those associated with the Chargers who were at Sluggers Neighborhood Grill in Coralville for Kaeding's first pre-tournament "PAR-TEE."

    Kaeding said he hopes the event and the golf tournament generate $50,000 to be split between the Russell and Ann Gerdin American Cancer Society Hope Lodge and the Greater Iowa City/Coralville Sports Authority. Thursday night's gathering featured an auction that included memorabilia signed by Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson and a framed and autographed Kaeding Pro Bowl jersey.

    "This is such a good core of people that we all realize what's at stake," Goff said. "We're 0-2 in the playoffs since Nate and I have been there. What it comes down to is you have to realize from what you've done. ... You do whatever you have to do to get in the playoffs, and once you get in the playoffs you go from that point. This team has matured enough to know that when it comes down to it, you've just got to do whatever it takes to get it done, and last year we didn't do what it took to get it done."

    Schottenheimer was ultimately fired and replaced by Norv Turner. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips left to become the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron bolted for the opportunity to coach the Miami Dolphins.

    Still, many of the main components remain in place for the Chargers and the abrupt end to last season remains fresh in their minds.

    "We got in that game against New England, and here's (coach) Bill Belichick and (quarterback) Tom Brady, and these guys have won three Super Bowls and a plethora of playoff experience," Kaeding said. "They've been there however many times. And then there's us -- we're a relatively young team, and they've done it before and we haven't. We get down to the end of the game and we just didn't make plays when it came time to make them. But once we get there, get that experience, we're going to break through."

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