The time is now

Every week the Chargers say it is time to bear down and put forth that extra effort that will propel them to the playoffs. There is little room for error after four losses in the first seven games - and the 2-0 response since has them believing again.

The Chargers head into their bye week on a two-game winning streak, primed to make a run at the playoffs. They realize their 5-4 record probably isn't an accurate indicator of their team's skills, but they're upbeat knowing they're still in the playoff race.

The tougher half of their schedule is behind them, and the Chargers embrace their bye as a chance to get back some key players.

The Chargers entered their game against the Jets with seven starters unable to go because of various ailments.

"We got a lot of guys banged up," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "We need to get back healthy and make this run."

That sprint toward the tape seemed in doubt at various junctures of this up-and-down season. The Chargers' four losses came by a combined 12 points, and on Sunday it looked as if the defense would squander a fourth-quarter lead for the fifth time.

But the defense stood tall, and the team enters the bye week with a dose of momentum. And while the defense has struggled at times, coach Marty Schottenheimer believes better days are ahead.

"My confidence in our defense grows day by day," he said. "We have a lot of young players making progress."

Few Chargers on either side of the ball are playing better than quarterback Drew Brees. In the past three weeks, he has thrown for 893 yards and six touchdowns. And Brees is doing it, for the most part, behind an offensive line that is in flux because of injuries. He's running the offense with poise and polish.

"We've had a back-and-forth season so far," he said. "This is our time to make our run."

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