Chargers halfway home

The win over the Browns got the Chargers where they wanted to be: 6-2 at the season's halfway mark.

The Chargers know they have to pick up their game dramatically over the next two weeks if wanting to maintain a share of the AFC West lead. Committing 12 penalties, having shoddy special teams play and utilizing an offense that was up as much as it was down won't cut it on the road against the Bengals and Broncos.

Maybe that's why the Chargers have been so quick to file away Sunday's 32-25 victory. The team didn't play well and very easily could have lost if not for playing such inferior opponent.

The Chargers may have won six of eight and two straight, but they've yet to win a game in a hostile environment against a top-flight team.

Sorry, but road wins at Oakland and San Francisco hardly qualify.

"It's going to be a test for us, no question," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "Cincinnati is one of the top teams in the AFC North, and it is going to be tough going to their place and playing."

Tomlinson expects the Bengals to be in a sour mood after losing two straight and to come with plenty of energy.

"We have to match their intensity and be ready to go from the jump-start because they are going to try and jump on us fast and get the crowd behind them. That's going to be a tough test for us," Tomlinson said.

In the Bengals, the Chargers face a team much like the Chiefs squad they played on Oct. 22. The Chiefs had just been embarrassed by the Steelers and the doubters were lined up three deep. That a similar situation the sinking Bengals find themselves in.

"You worry about a team like that because in these situations it's what brings out the best in football players," Tomlinson said. "Where people are writing them off, and they lost (two) straight, football players, they look for stuff like that. They look for something where people say they can't do something. Hey, they are going to want to prove a point, and that is one thing we have to understand and be ready."

Browns Notes:

Charlie Frye has been sacked 29 times and has been hit countless other times this season.

After Sunday's game in San Diego, Frye was limping, aching and hurting. He was sacked five times and chased around a dozen more.

He also took a hit from Chargers defensive end Derreck Robinson that Browns linemen said was a blatant cheap shot. Frye was blindsided well after a whistle blew to stop the play because of a penalty.

Frye appeared to be in serious pain after that shot, and stayed on the ground for several seconds.

If the Browns are to keep their quarterback healthy, something has to give. Game in and game out Frye takes a pounding.

He keeps on ticking, but eventually he won't. The Ravens and Chargers really beat him up, and he's on a pace to set a Browns record for sacks in a season.

Either the Browns need to establish a running game, or they need to find a way for Frye to get rid of the ball quicker.

No quarterback can last a season getting hit like Frye does.

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