How sweet it is

Hard to imagine the Chargers got much satisfaction from their first two wins this season. Running up the score on the Raiders and Titans is paramount to winning a debate against someone with Bell's palsy. However, beating a desperate Steelers team coming off its bye week does more than elicit feelings of satisfaction; it announces to the league that the Chargers are a team to be reckoned with.

In beating the defending Super Bowl champions 23-13, the Chargers made it clear that they are a playoff-bound squad.

The team's next four games are against the rebuilding 49ers, the rehabilitating Chiefs, the overrated Rams and the undermanned Browns. Bottom line: the Chargers should be on the fast track to a 7-1 record at the season's halfway point.

"We are 3-1 at the quarter pole," said coach Marty Schottenheimer. "We have work to do to get to where we are trying to go. We are going to continue to do it the way we have done it."

It can be dangerous to read too much into any one game, but the Chargers sure looked like a championship-caliber team during their primetime victory. The numbers at the aforementioned quarter pole seem to second that notion. The team boasts the league's No. 1 ranked defense and its No. 6 ranked offense.

For all the criticism Schottenheimer has taken, one would assume he must be doing something right given the above rankings. As impressive as his defense has been, it is the offense's productivity that is most impressive. After all, going with a first-year starter at quarterback and a rookie at left tackle is rarely a formula for success.

While that may have been a scary thought for Chargers fans heading into the season, now it is the rest of the league that has to fret.

The Chargers are a young team that will only improve as the season progresses.

"It was more than a win," said Rivers of the Steelers game. "I think we grew in many ways - offense, defense - we grew in the right direction."

It's interesting that the Chargers spent all offseason gushing about the Steelers blueprint for breaking in a young quarterback. Then Rivers broke out and showed why the team rated him over Ben Roethlisberger in the 2004 draft.

As for Roethlisberger, he finished the game with no touchdown passes, two interceptions, and one subtle shot at the defense that carried him during his first two years in the league.

"It felt like we (the offense) were on the sideline the whole time…I don't know how many possessions we had in the second half, but it felt like we were just sitting there getting stiff," he said.

So the Chargers bagged a victory, some momentum, and the satisfaction of forcing the reigning champs to writhe under the same scrutiny they themselves faced just a week ago. How sweet it is.


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