SDUT: Five-game winning streak carries Chargers into playoff

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

SAN DIEGO – Drew Brees says he never looks too far down the road because he might trip on something that's right in front of him.
That's precisely how the Chargers will approach the final month of the season as they try to make consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in a decade.

San Diego's playoff hopes brightened considerably Sunday, thanks to its 34-10 win over the Oakland Raiders, plus some favorable results elsewhere.

The Chargers (8-4), who have won five straight, figure they need to win out in order to reach the playoffs, either by repeating as AFC West champions or as a wild-card team.

That's a tall task, considering that they still must play road games against undefeated Indianapolis and division rival Kanas City, and host division leader Denver in the season finale.

The Broncos lost 31-27 Sunday at Kansas City, leaving the Chargers and Chiefs just one game back, tied for second place as well as the last wild-card spot. The Chargers beat the Chiefs 28-20 on Oct. 30. Pittsburgh's wild-card chances were hurt by a home loss to Cincinnati.

But before the Chargers start running playoff permutations, they need to focus on Sunday's home game against Miami.

"We understand that if we don't beat Miami, then the last three games don't mean as much, because we might already be pretty much eliminated at that point," said Brees, who returned to his efficient self on Sunday night.

The Dolphins are 5-7, but they made up a 20-point deficit in the final 12 minutes Sunday to beat Buffalo 24-23, the biggest comeback victory in 31 years.

San Diego beat Buffalo 48-10 at home two weeks ago.

Coach Marty Schottenheimer, never at a loss for clichDes, is sure to remind his players a few hundred times this week to take it "one game at a time."

On Monday, a "talking points" sheet assembled by the PR department was inadvertently included in press notes. Among the points Schottenheimer and players were encouraged to make:

"We have a hard road ahead."

"This is a huge game this weekend if we hope to get to where we want to be."

"Don't use the word 'playoffs.' "

That's not to say the Chargers don't enjoy scoreboard watching.

"I mean, hey, it's nice that K.C. beat Denver and it's nice that Pittsburgh lost," Brees said. "We know this: If we take care of business and win out, we're going to the playoffs, regardless. We understand that if we take care of our business, none of that other stuff matters."

The Chargers got a scare when LaDainian Tomlinson came out of Sunday night's game with a rib injury, but he came back in.

Still, while the winning streak has brought a good feeling, "yesterday was by no means a perfect game," Brees said.

San Diego's offense scored just three points in the first quarter and three in the fourth, although the defense chimed in with Clinton Hart's 70-yard interception return for a touchdown with 6:29 left in the game.

"Everything else was in between," said Brees, who threw two touchdown passes. "Obviously, there's areas where we can get better and we'll need to continue to get better if we want to make this championship run."

Kassim Osgood, a wide receiver and special teams standout, has a torn pectoral muscle that will require season-ending surgery, Schottenheimer said.