"This year the pressure is not on us," fullback Lorenzo Neal said. "Everyone said we are not going to do anything. They counted us out. The only people who did not think we were going to win were the media."
While the new defense had its share of problems, especially in the first half, the offense performed capably.
Sure, LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates were the only two options Drew Brees had during the entire first half but with his budding confidence, he began to look more at his other options.
"Throughout the game we played as a unit and established trust," Brees said. "It was a great day to play in Texas."
The second half saw Reche Caldwell catch four passes, tying his career high for an entire game. His touchdown reception was the longest play of his tenure in San Diego.
Eric Parker caught two passes, including a beautiful snag in the back of the end zone.
"You just have to make plays," Eric Parker said.
It is the only way the opposition will take the Chargers seriously. Parker had a few other moments where he was open but Brees could not get the ball in. Three of his passes were overthrows to Parker who was open.
His speed has become an asset and the moment many were awaiting – the true emergence of Antonio Gates could also be opening up the deeper lanes. With Gates getting open with regularity underneath, Parker could slip past the safeties.
Brees showed the maturity that first became visible in the preseason. He made a concerted effort to look off safeties and go back to his other receivers. His play-fake has become ten times better than it ever was. He is simply a better quarterback.
"The first step toward our goal was to come here and fight for a victory," Brees said. "It's not fun when you don't win, and we realized as a team what we can achieve."
Tomlinson did his part but it is amazing what can happen when there is an equal contribution from the quarterback and the receiving corps. Tomlinson ran for over 100 yards and when the offense began to click, he was not needed in the passing game. When he was used the Texans shut him down.
"We game-planned quite a bit for him," Texans' rookie linebacker Jason Babin said.. "I don't think they used him as much as we anticipated."
Keying on him, someone needed to step up and that was Drew Brees.
"I worked tirelessly in the off-season to get to this point," Brees said. "I want to lead us to a championship."
Perhaps we were all wrong. Maybe the work is paying off. This was a team that didn't know how to win coming in and found itself along the way.
"Words can't express how important this win is to the team and the organization, especially on the road," Donnie Edwards said.
Words can't express the certain shock the Chargers have caused. They are atop the AFC West heading home to play the New York Jets.
This is a team that can play many close games this year. Teams are defined by how they play in those games. If the opener is an indication, the Chargers may be ready to pull out a few more than anyone thought.
Denis Savage can be reached at email@example.com
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