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Chargers bolting through Decembers

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-chargers-browns&amp;prov=ap&amp;type=lgns" target="_blank">Associated Press</a>

    By Tom Withers

    <div class="alignright"><a href="http://broncotalk.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/sproles_rivers_tomlinson.jpg"><img title="Philip RIvers, LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles" src="http://broncotalk.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/sproles_rivers_tomlinson.jpg" alt="Philip RIvers, LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles" width="229" height="159" /></a></div>

    CLEVELAND (AP)-It's December, and baby, it's getting cold outside.

    Time to break out the overcoats, boots, scarves and mittens. But while most everyone is chilling out, this is the month when the San Diego Chargers heat up.

    They've won 14 straight games in December, a streak that stretches back to the final game of the 2005 season. Neither snow, nor sleet, nor cross country trips has stopped these Chargers (8-3) from living up to their full-speed-ahead nickname in December.

    "You want to be peaking in December," Chargers quarterback <span>Philip Rivers</span> said. "We've been on a roll. Now that we've gotten here we need to keep it going. We've got the right mindset, that's to just worry about Cleveland."

    Worry? About Cleveland?

    Maybe Rivers hasn't been following the plight of the Browns (1-10), who have dropped six straight games, lost three starters to season-ending injuries this week, and are staggering toward the end of what to this point has been the worst season in Cleveland history.

    San Diego has won six straight games after an 0-2 start, and unless they get thrown off by the time change, oversleep and forget kickoff is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. local time, the Chargers should make it seven in a row and move closer to securing the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs and a first-round bye.

    Although it's only December, coach Norv Turner said it's not too early to start planning ahead for the new year-and postseason pairings.

    "I think when you get to this point it's in the back of your mind," he said. "But to me it's scary because the No. 1 thing, I don't care who you are, you want to qualify for the playoffs and that's a starting point. Then once you do that, you start thinking about, ‘Hey, we want to be in the best position we can."'

    The Chargers, 9-0 under Turner in December, can't afford to look past the Browns. Next week, they play at Dallas, followed by a home game against Cincinnati, two teams with similar playoff aspirations. Turner spent the week doing all he could to pump up the Browns as contenders.

    "We go to Cleveland, it's going to be a challenge for us," Turner said. "You look at our schedule over the next five games, we play good football teams that are doing the same thing we're doing, trying to make the playoffs."

    Rivers has been instrumental in the Chargers' surge. During San Diego's winning streak, he has completed 70 percent of his passes (116 of 166), thrown 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He's also done it without much pressure as San Diego's line has not given up a sack in two games.

    Rivers has thrown a TD pass in eight straight games and could feast on a Cleveland defense ranked 31st overall, giving up 393 yards per game. Last week, Rivers went 21 of 28 for 317 yards as the Chargers routed the Kansas City Chiefs 43-14.

    He may not get the same notoriety as <span>Drew Brees,</span> <span>Peyton Manning,</span> <span>Brett Favre</span> or <span>Ben Roethlisberger,</span> but Rivers belongs in their elite company.

    "I can't say enough about Philip," said Chargers tight end <span>Antonio Gates,</span> who leads the team with 59 receptions. "I could say he can't run a lick. He's very, very accurate. It's been tremendous to be around a guy who understands the game and wants to win. I consider him a football player. I don't characterize him as a quarterback. He'll do whatever it takes."

    He may not have to do much against the Browns, who have lost a franchise-record nine straight home games.

    It's been another trying week for first-year coach Eric Mangini. He lost running back <span>Jamal Lewis</span> to a career-ending concussion and nose tackle <span>Shaun Rogers</span> (leg) and safety <span>Brodney Pool</span> (concussion) for the season. Pool's injury could force Mangini to start wide receiver <span>Mike Furrey</span> at safety, a spot he's played periodically.

    The Chargers have scored 31, 32 and 43 points in their past three games. There's no reason to believe they won't approach those totals Sunday, given their revived air attack. But with run-stuffing Rogers out, San Diego may opt to keep the ball on the ground.

    "I don't really know what their philosophy is going to be," Mangini said. "They have a lot of good options. Give the ball to <span>LaDainian Tomlinson.</span> Give the ball to (Darren) Sproles. Throw it to (Antonio) Gates. Throw it to <span>Vincent Jackson.</span> They're all good. Take your pick."

    Tomlinson seems to have lost a step and may not be the shifty back he once was, but the nine-year veteran still has a nose for the end zone. He has eight touchdowns, including four in his last three games.

    "Tomlinson is still dangerous," Browns linebacker <span>David Bowens</span> said. "He wants that cutback. He wants to bounce outside and get the edge. He still has a lot of production."

    Last week, Tomlinson moved into 10th place on the NFL's career rushing list with 12,257 yards. He needs just 23 to pass <span>Marshall Faulk</span> (12,279) and 56 to overtake Browns Hall of Famer Jim Brown (12,312) for eighth place. Tomlinson wouldn't mind passing the Cleveland legend in his old stomping grounds.

    "I think it will be special if we're able to do that, but I haven't really thought about it too much," he said. "Hopefully it happens. That would be a special place to do it."

    It's already the right time for the Chargers.

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