First win the hardest

It's not all the way back, but a hint of the swagger the Chargers entered the season with was on display soon after they pounded the Giants, 45-20.

LaDainian Tomlinson gained 192 yards on 21 carries (that's 9.1 per), scored three times and even threw an option TD pass to WR Keenan McCardell as the Bolts totaled 485 net yards on the day.

"We were lousy," said Giants DE Michael Strahan, "and I don't think there is an explanation."

The Chargers hit their groove is the answer. This was a team that ranked third in the NFL in scoring a year ago and hungry for a win.

They were in no mood to find themselves in an 0-3 hole, so they came out and played their most complete game, especially on offense.

And the turnaround comes none-too-early as the Chargers' next five games before their bye are at New England, Pittsburgh, at Oakland, at Philadelphia and Kansas City.

"It was huge," veteran wide receiver Keenan McCardell said of the team's first victory. "That was a do-or-die win for us. Everyone was expecting us to be the hot team coming out of the box because we were the hot team at the end of the year."

But the Chargers stumbled from the gate with two losses, which made Sunday night's affair bigger than Eli Manning finally coming to San Diego.

Those questioning the Chargers' resolve have to take a step back.

"When we had gone 0-2 and a lot of people doubted our confidence, and to come out and have win like this where everybody performed so well is just what we needed," quarterback Drew Brees said.

Added Tomlinson, who was sensational against the Giants:

"Earlier in the week we said we needed this win. It was kind of like a must-win, that's how we looked at it last week. We knew we had to this game. We couldn't afford to go down 0-3."

Not with what awaits.

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