It is Tomlinson time

Another blowout would make San Diego Chargers fans happy, but it is unlikely. The Bolts will travel to Oakland this week in the wake of the bye week. As important a game as Sunday will be, the Bolts understand the Raiders are angry and looking for redemption.

"I feel quite sure it is going to be a difficult task going up there," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said.

A 42-14 drubbing down in San Diego just two weeks ago demands a curtain call but the Black Hole is not nearly as friendly as San Diego has proved to be. Linebacker Steve Foley even mentioned he would be ready for batteries and beer – by wearing his helmet full-time on the sidelines.

The Chargers will embark on a seven game journey that will either lead to the playoffs or disappointment. And no Charger player thinks failure is in their future.

Four of the seven will be on the road and none are as crucial as Sunday. It is the next game that must be looked at and only after this week can they take a gander at playing Kansas City the following week.

As good as 6-3 seems, the Chargers would be in a tiebreaker for the playoffs and end up as a wildcard, barely.

And facing an Oakland team they dismantled last time out will not be an easy task. The Raiders have licked their wounds from the loss and have had a bye week themselves to clear their heads and focus on revenge in the bitter rivalry.

It is a game, thanks to Schottenheimer, that the Bolts will not take lightly.

"They will be a lot better," said running back LaDainian Tomlinson. "It is one thing to play the game, it is another to lose like they did. They have a lot of pride on their team. They are going to be looking to prove a point."

When rivalries face off, the mantra is ‘you can throw away the records.'

It is not hard for either team to rise up for the game and more so for a team that was embarrassed last time out.

The Chargers goal is still the same. They want to stop the run and limit the big play on defense while spreading the ball around on offense and utilizing Tomlinson a bit more, a true test of his healing groin injury.

They know a healthy Tomlinson will give them the competitive edge down the stretch and are eager to see if he is the sum of all his parts.

"I don't go full speed until Sunday's," said Tomlinson in assessing his health. "I have dealt with the pain. It is just a fact of not being myself. I can deal with the pain."

Sunday would be a fine day for the pain to subside. Tomlinson has a knack for playing his best against Oakland and celebrating in the Black Hole is no exception.

Tomlinson gained 430 on the ground in his two games against Oakland last year and has gained 340 yards rushing in Oakland over the last two years.

Topping 150 yards on the ground would surely suggest the star running back is officially healthy.

"The explosion, taking it all the way, it is just not there right now," Tomlinson said of his past performances. But he did not rule out this Sunday as the return of the fireworks.

"I just have to find ways to beat people when I'm matched up on them," he said. "I can pretty much recognize who is covering me. I have to be able to beat them." What better place to see that burst than in Oakland with the season still hanging in the balance. If anyone wants the playoffs, it is Tomlinson and his legs, or groin, could be the ticket to success.


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