Chargers hurdle one obstacle

When the schedule came out, the month of October promised to be the toughest month for the Chargers. After demolishing the Patriots, they are looking forward to the next leap on Monday night against the Steelers.

Bring on the Steelers - and make it a Monday Night affair.

The Chargers have climbed off the mat after nearly submitting to a three-count, won two straight and are playing with the confidence and tenacity they did last year in running to a 12-4 mark and their first AFC West title since 1984.

And with Sunday's victory wrecking the Patriots' 21-game home winning streak, the Chargers feel that slow start is history.

"It says a lot that we can come in an environment like this, in one of the most hostile places to play in, after a long road trip, and win," linebacker Ben Leber said.

The confidence is high and it took one game to get them off the ground and flying again.

The offense is humming along impressively. The Chargers have scored 86 points in the past eight quarters, with running back LaDainian Tomlinson rushing for 326 yards and five touchdowns and quarterback Drew Brees completing 38-of-46 passes for 439 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

"We have played well over the last two weeks," said Tomlinson, who has scored a touchdown in 16 straight games, four shy of the NFL record. "I think we are starting to click on offense and defensively, too."

"Regardless of what kind of defense we were playing and regardless of what kind of blocking schemes they had, there were creases," LB Rosevelt Colvin said. "The object of the defense is you want to build a wall and put up a front so they don't have anywhere to run. When guys get out of gaps or somebody overplays a run one way or another you have cutback lanes. We knew coming into the game what we had to do and we didn't accomplish it."

The defense has righted itself. It's gotten back to being stingy against the run, and even the embattled secondary is showing small signs of progress.

But it all starts with Brees at the helm of one of the NFL's most versatile offense. And while he'll be overshadowed by Ben Roethlisberger on Monday night, Tomlinson said it's a mistake not include Brees, last year's NFL comeback player of the year, among the top quarterbacks in the game.

"He kind of gets overlooked in the game, but I tell you want: He can go out and play better than anybody with mistake-free football," Tomlinson said. "He can manage the game really well, and he does what he needs to do to get his team a win. That's why he is a leader of the team."

If the Chargers' road is to lead back to the playoffs, they must overcome a difficult stretch that started with the Patriots and includes games against the Steelers, Raiders, Eagles and Chiefs.

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