No letdown expected

Coming off a big win this past weekend, the San Diego Chargers aren't allowing it to get into their heads.

After the Chargers played so well in the second half Sunday night in rallying to defeat the Steelers, coach Marty Schottenheimer doesn't expect a letdown.

Never mind the 49er are up next, which is quite a step down after whipping the Super Bowl champions at home before a Sunday night national TV audience.

Games just like the one coming up this week gave the 2005 Chargers fits. Among the losses that just kept them out of the playoffs were pratfalls to the Dolphins and Chiefs last year.

But Schottenheimer said whatever potential trap there might be in playing the 49ers, his team won't fall into it.

"They are 2-1 at home, they are batting 66 percent at home, and we will not be lured into the trap, I promise you," Schottenheimer said.

The Chargers have completed their first quarter of the season, and at 3-1 they feel good about their chances of seeing the playoffs for the second time since 1995. But to do so, the team knows it can't take any opponent lightly, including the 49ers.

"We have an opportunity to win one game this week, and it is the only one we play," Schottenheimer stressed. "And it is going to be imperative that we have the focus and attention that was evident last Wednesday -- we talked about the quality of that practice -- and again on Thursday.

"Believe me -- when you practice that way, you play that way."

Added quarterback Philip Rivers: "We will be ready."

Schottenheimer doesn't want to hear the talk of the Chargers being 3-1. Instead, he looks at every week as if it presents a fresh canvas.

"From our perspective, we are looking at it that they are 0-0 and we are 0-0," he said. "And that is the way we approach every game, quite frankly."

Linebacker Shaun Phillips agreed.

"For us, we're playing for the playoffs," he said. "We have but no choice than to play our hearts out."

From Pittsburgh:

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger grabbed his right elbow several times in pregame warm-ups and left the locker room Sunday night in San Diego with his arm in a sling, but it's not expected to be a problem.

Coach Bill Cowher did not even list his quarterback among the injured after the game and Roethlisberger said it was no big deal. Roethlisberger explained away questions about his elbow. He said he was hit on it once during the game and said he was merely massaging it before the game.

It looked like he had no problems with his arm or his decisions in the first half of the Steelers' 23-13 loss in San Diego, their third straight. Roethlisberger completed 13 of 20 passes for 169 yards in the first half with two drops and a spike thrown in. He also lost the ball while trying to pass, throwing it straight into the dirt.

The second half was a different story. Even though he was 7 of 11, two of his passes went to the Chargers. His second one was pitiful. As he was getting hit, he merely threw the ball up for grabs and it was easily intercepted. That's not a play coach Bill Cowher is used to seeing from his young quarterback.

"It's one thing to try to throw the ball, but not to hang it up there that long," Cowher said.

Roethlisberger has lost three straight games for the first time in a career that began with a 13-0 record as a rookie and a Super Bowl victory his second season. He's 0-3 in this one after Charlie Batch won the opener four days after Roethlisberger had an appendectomy.

Did they bring him back too soon, starting his first game 15 days after the surgery? His performance so far suggests something's wrong and that's as good a guess as any.


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