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Hot Chargers rolling into playoffs

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

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=txchargersftr&amp;prov=st&amp;type=lgns" target="_blank">PA SportsTicker</a>

    By Bob Birge

    <img src="http://assets.espn.go.com/media/apphoto/4efecd82-f6ab-4b47-a094-a6aa3afbb5d6.jpg" alt="San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers delivers a pass during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Dec. 16, 2007 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)" align="left" height="210" width="177" />Isn't it amazing how a few wins will change a team's outlook?

    The San Diego Chargers were a happy group Sunday night after routing the Detroit Lions, 51-14, to capture their second straight AFC West title.

    "(Adversity) builds character," Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "You find out who you are."

    The Chargers faced plenty of adversity early in the season. They started 1-3, quarterback Philip Rivers made too many mistakes and first-year coach Norv Turner's leadership was being questioned.

    Turner replaced a popular coach in Marty Schottenheimer, who was fired after losing a home playoff game in the divisional round last season. He was dismissed despite leading the Chargers to an NFL-best record of 14-2 last season.

    Things reached a head on September 30, when the Chargers fell to 1-3 following an ugly 30-16 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

    In the waning moments of that game, fans at Qualcomm Stadium voiced their displeasure by chanting "Marty, Marty, Marty."

    "When you lose you have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'What can I do better or what am I doing wrong?'" Tomlinson said.

    "It can go two ways - you can let it snowball and continue to spiral out of control and you can meet it head on and say, 'Look, this is not going to happen again. We're too good to let this happen', and we did the latter."

    The Chargers in December are not the Chargers in September. They have won eight of their last 10 games and are averaging 32.5 points during a season-high four-game winning streak.

    "I just think we have grown as a team," tight end Antonio Gates said. "The first couple of months we were learning each other. I think we are playing our best football when we need it the most, going into the postseason."

    The Chargers could be a dangerous team heading into the playoffs. Rivers has cut down on his mistakes and Tomlinson is displaying the form that allowed him to rush for an NFL-best 1,815 yards last season.

    After tossing six interceptions in the Chargers' first four games, Rivers has thrown only three in the last four contests.

    Tomlinson has three straight 100-yard games, climbing to second in the NFL in rushing with 1,311 yards following a slow start. He is only six yards behind Pittsburgh's Willie Parker.

    "The players have continually gotten more comfortable with what we are doing, and it has showed up over the last month," Turner said. "You're going to have ups and downs throughout the season, you just have to keep focusing on what you have to do."

    With games remaining against Denver and Oakland, the Chargers could end the regular season with a six-game winning streak.

    They hold a tiebreaker edge over AFC North co-leaders Cleveland and Pittsburgh and are in the driver's seat to land the AFC's No. 3 playoff seed. That would allow the Chargers to host a first-round playoff game.

    "I'm proud of this team with the way we came back and the way we fought," said Tomlinson, who scored two touchdowns Sunday to pass Hall of Famer Jim Brown for seventh on the all-time list with 127. "We're playing good football right now."

    For Tomlinson, winning the division title this year was more satisfying than a year ago because it not come as easily.

    The Chargers' playoffs hopes were clearly in jeopardy after a 24-17 loss at Jacksonville dropped them to 5-5 on November 28.

    San Diego showed its character last week, however, rallying from a 14-point deficit in the final minutes of the fourth quarter before beating the Tennessee Titans, 23-17, in overtime.

    "There's always adversity in the season, there's always ups and downs," Tomlinson said. "Every season is not going to be 14-2 or 14-0, like the (New England) Patriots. That doesn't happen often. We just have to continue to believe that we can win games."
     

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