Fired up over their first victory of the season, the Chargers now head into the teeth of the schedule.
The relatively easy part of the Chargers' slate of games came to end with their win over the New York Giants. Up next are five games before their bye that could make or break their season.
The visiting Chargers match skills with the Super Bowl champion Patriots on Sunday, then it's a home game against the Steelers and two more away contests, at Oakland and at Philadelphia.
The Chargers were boasting of being among the NFL's elite teams, then they opened with two close losses. They'll get a sense of just where they are when facing the Patriots.
"They are a heck of a good team, three out of four world championships, you can't argue with that," quarterback Drew Brees said. "They know how to win, and they know how to win at home."
But the Chargers feel their versatile offense is enough to keep the Patriots off-balance. And defensively, they are starting to show their swagger again against the run, although the passing defense still has work to do.
So if they could somehow manage a win Sunday, it could be a turning point in the season.
"What a great victory for us that would be," Brees said. "Not only for the record, but also emotionally for us as a team, to go up there and get a victory."
The Chargers got their first one of the season because they rediscovered LaDainian Tomlinson. One of the NFL's best backs got back into the mix by rushing for 192 yards and three scores, catching six passes for 28 yards, and throwing a touchdown pass to Keenan McCardell.
"It's obvious when you put the ball in his hands, he's a playmaker," Brees said. "He's the best running back in the league, so obviously we are going to try to get him the ball as much possible."