Yes, the team was able to knock the Colts from the ranks of the undefeated on Sunday. But that victory just underscored two things: that the Chargers (9-5) are a very good team and that they could miss the playoffs because of baffling losses leading up to the Colts conquest.
The home loss to two-touchdown underdog Miami comes to mind. The blocked field goal that cost them a game at Philadelphia is still fresh. The inability to punch it in from the Dallas 7 in the opener as the game came to an end is mentioned.
"I don't ever look back," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "You're wasting your time. You're being distracted. Intellectually, if you believe that and understand that, then don't let yourself get distracted."
And really, the Chargers' status is pretty clear-cut. Their best shot at a playoff spot is by defeating the Chiefs on Saturday, taking down the Broncos in the regular-season finale, and hoping the Steelers or Jaguars lose at least once.
"Our task is simple," Schottenheimer said. "We have to get ready to play the Chiefs in a tough environment on a short week. But you know what? Our football team has stood up to adversity a lot this season. Our hope is, if we continue to do the things we do well and do them on a consistent basis, it will give us an opportunity to be successful at Kansas City."
The Chargers have little choice after losing their first two games and three of their first seven. The bed they have made is all theirs, and now they are sleeping in it.
But it will make for many restless off-season nights if the Chargers don't get into the playoffs. They know, as well as the entire NFL, that they are playoff-worthy. But it's a bottom-line business, and the Chargers' might not translate into a playoff invitation.