But what really frustrated me the most was that they looked like they weren't playing with any sense of urgency. It reminded too much of the playoff loss to the Jets. I also didn't understand why Kaeding was continuing to kick off when he clearly couldn't get it deep. At least the coverage team was able to stop the Deadskins on the 25 most times. Conversely, Parker was forced to fair catch most of the punts that came his way. But this game was an example of what having LaDainian Tomlinson can do. His two touchdown runs were simply awesome. He bailed the Bolts out when they needed him most. He not only sent Sammy and I on our 5-hour drive with smiles on our faces, but also gave the Chargers a win they absolutely needed to have. Maybe getting rid of those special Nike shoes helped, even though he still slipped once.
Before the season began, I wrote that I would rather see the Chargers drop more games in the regular season if it resulted in them being more battle-tested for the postseason. Who knows, it might actually be happening. Maybe all those September and October horrors will end up being worth something.
Each week we have to hear about how tough it will be for the Chargers to make the playoffs and what a shame it would be if they don't qualify. My attitude is similar to what the White Sox players said as they were clinging to their once-enormous AL West lead. If we can make it through this, they said, we'll be one tough out in the playoffs. Schottenheimer claims that he doesn't tell the players that these games are "must wins" because what would happen if they lost? The way I see it, the Bolts need to do everything in their power not to lose. They know how slim their margin for error is. Whether it be the holding call that pushed John Hall's field goal attempt back or the late defensive stand, it appears that this team is becoming more steely each week.
I couldn't help but notice on Sunday that Washington did exactly what the Chargers did in their early losses. They ran twice, threw once and gave the ball back. It was nice to see us on the receiving end of a late-game comeback. Naysayers will suggest that this team will be unable to overcome not only Denver, Kansas City and Jacksonville, but their first four losses. Meanwhile, this team keeps coming together and winning. Sure, they haven't played any of the other playoff challengers lately. But they are doing everything they can to be ready when they do in the last three weeks. This week it's the Traitors. Obviously, this is never an ordinary game. However, the Bolts know they have to keep going. I have no doubt that Oakland will be fired up, but so will we. If the Chargers suspect that they "stole" one last week, they know they need to play a lot better Sunday Night. I implore all San Diegans in attendance to make themselves heard. I will be traveling to the Left Coast the next week for the game against Miami. Keep the place warm until I get there.
This installment of "The Justice Files" is dedicated to the memory of Wendie Jo Sperber of "Bosom Buddies," "Bachelor Party" and "Stewardess School" fame.
PS Lynyrd Skynyrd was finally in voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This has been a crusade of mine for a while. Here's a piece I wrote to that effect last year.