Chargers welcome Monday night carnival

The Three Ring Circus - not to be confused with Three Rivers Stadium where the Steelers played - is coming to town this week. And its one-day resting place will be in the home of the Chargers under the disguise of Monday Night Football.

The carnival that is "Monday Night Football" rolls into San Diego when the surging Chargers take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It's a big deal in that the MNF crew hasn't touched down here since 1996. The Chargers were scheduled to face the Miami Dolphins on MNF in 2002, but a series of wild fires forced the game to be played in Tempe, Ariz.

But while Chargers fans is revved about the Monday night game, the Chargers are trying to treat it as any other contest.

"It's great for the fans," quarterback Drew Brees said. "And if it's half as crazy as it was (Sept. 25 against the Giant's Eli Manning), then we'll definitely have an advantage with that 12th man."

But the 11 on the field must put the hype - and that rocking win over the Patriots last Sunday - behind them. They must tangle with a tough Pittsburgh team that is coming off a bye and a disappointing home loss to the Patriots.

"We're trying to downplay the atmosphere and everything," Brees said. "Yeah, it's going to be hyped up. Yeah, it's going to be great. But obviously we have to stay focused on what our job is."

Coach Marty Schottenheimer has drilled into his players' heads for years that the last game is just that. And it doesn't matter if you won the previous contest or lost it, it really has no bearing on the next game.

That's why the Chargers have been eager to move past the triumph over the Patriots. There's no denying it was one of the most satisfying victories in franchise history - especially with it coming at Gillette Stadium. But if the team wants to be razor sharp against the Steelers, it has to forget about the back slaps and get back to slapping people around.

Brees not only has to put the win behind him but his efficient performance, which gained him the AFC offensive player of the week award.

That, like the win in Foxboro, means absolutely nothing.

"Now the slate is wiped clean and it's what have you done for me lately?" Brees said. "You are only evaluated by you next game, not your last game."

And this game features a Pittsburgh defense that is fond of blitzing and making life miserable for opposing quarterbacks.

"These guys do it a lot and you know it's coming," said Brees, who's been sacked but six times. "They say, 'hey, we're going to blitz you and here we come.' It's not like its any mystery. It's not like they are going to sneak up on anybody."

The Chargers might have done that to rivals last year. But no more. The Steelers figure to bring their "A" game and the Chargers will need something similar to run their winning streak to three and surpass the .500 mark for the first time this season.


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