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Chargers return to reality

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.pe.com/sports/football/stories/PE_Sports_Local_D_chargers20.5a0c803.html" target="_blank">The Press-Enterprise</a>

    By Jim Alexander

    For a day, the Chargers were the talk of the NFL.

    By Monday, however, the euphoria of an upset over the league's last undefeated team had morphed into the reality of a playoff situation that remains tenuous. The Chargers' 26-17 stunner over the Indianapolis Colts kept them alive for another week, but their inclusion in the Super Bowl tournament still depends on what happens in other places.

    The Chargers are third in what has become a race with Jacksonville and Pittsburgh for two AFC wild-card spots. They trail the 10-5 Jaguars by a game and would lose out in a tie with Pittsburgh because of their 24-22 loss to the Steelers on Oct. 13.

    They still are mathematically alive in the AFC West race, but a Denver victory over Oakland on Saturday would sew up the division title.

    And while the Chargers play the 8-6 Chiefs in Kansas City on Saturday and finish up with the 11-3 Broncos at home on New Year's Eve, the teams they're chasing will fatten up on under-.500 teams the final two weeks. The Steelers face the Browns and Lions, while the Jaguars face the Texans and Titans.

    In other words, San Diego could win both remaining games, finish with 11 victories and still miss the playoffs. That has happened only three times since the league split into divisions in 1933: to Denver (11-5) in 1985, Green Bay (11-2-1) in 1963 and Detroit (11-3) in 1962.

    In retrospect, Sunday's most significant result might have been Jacksonville's 10-9 victory over the 49ers. The Chargers could finish with the tiebreaker advantage over the Jags, but they have to get even with them first.

    "It's frustrating, but you go back and who do you blame? You blame yourself," fullback Lorenzo Neal said during a media session at the Chargers' San Diego headquarters Monday. "We had opportunities to put teams away and let them stay around.

    "... Hey, 11-5 is not a bad record. I personally think 11-5 is going to get us in. What we've accomplished as a team is not easy. To play the way we have on the road, it's tough to do. It's not over yet. We're going to keep hammering and see what happens," Neal said.

    About all a player can do is convince himself that somehow, good things will happen.

    "I still feel like we control our own destiny in the fact that if we take care of ourselves and let other teams beat up on each other, things will work out for us," quarterback Drew Brees said.

    "At the start of the season, our goal was to win a championship. The expectation was to be in the playoffs. That wasn't really a goal ... it was going to happen. We still believe every day that we come in that we're going to the playoffs."

    If nothing else, the Chargers' ability to handle a noisy, frenetic environment Sunday in Indianapolis should serve them well this Saturday in Kansas City, another tough venue.

    "That place is crazy, and it's good crazy if you're Kansas City," said Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer, who coached the Chiefs for 10 seasons. "But I think once again (against the Colts) we showed our ability offensively in a tough environment to play the game and manage the game."

    One concern is LaDainian Tomlinson's health. The Chargers' star back, whose ribs have bothered him the past two weeks, came out of the game in the fourth quarter Sunday, only to have understudy Michael Turner sew up the game with an 83-yard touchdown run with 2:09 left.

    "I think he (Tomlinson) feels better," Schottenheimer said. "At some point in time I fully expect that he'll be able to practice."

    Two other injuries are more serious. Eric Parker sprained his foot in the first quarter, and Schottenheimer is taking a wait-and-see attitude. However, the coach suggested left tackle Roman Oben may be done for the year; Oben tore the plantar fascia muscle in his left foot Oct. 30 and has not played since.

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