Lightning Quicks: Buffalo West to AFC's Best

The Chargers and Bills are connected in several ways. Since arriving from Buffalo in 2001, A.J. Smith has helped the Chargers go from worst to first. When bringing over his old players didn't work, Smith drafted all news ones – the results have been spectacular.

Draft-Day Connection

The obvious connection here came in the 2004 draft, when the Chargers and Bills selected their franchise quarterbacks in Philip Rivers and J.P. Losman, respectively. But these teams share another draft-day connection with an equally profound effect on the each club's fortunes.

In 2002, the Chargers were hoping to select offensive tackle Mike Williams with the fifth overall pick in the draft. Instead, the Bills selected Williams at No. 4, leaving San Diego to take Quentin Jammer.

Williams was cut after four underwhelming seasons in Buffalo. Meanwhile, Jammer has started every game since 2003 and has improved steadily along the way. He signed a five-year extension in the offseason and is in the midst of his finest season as pro – he has 51 tackles and three interceptions in just 11 games.

Jammer's fourth-quarter interception last week against the Raiders allowed the Chargers to eek out an ugly win against their rivals.

"We've had a couple ugly games this year but we've pulled them out. Any win is a good win," he said.

Only the Best

It was just last season that Willis McGahee declared himself the best running back in football. One year later, LaDainian Tomlinson is showing the world just how wrong McGahee really was.

"He has over 21 touchdowns," McGahee said of Tomlinson. "That's hard to do in the NFL. I'm struggling to get five."

This season, Tomlinson has averaged 1.1 yards per carry more than McGahee. He has also scored eight times as many touchdowns as McGahee and has more than twice as many yards from scrimmage.

When asked if he were ready to concede that Tomlinson is the NFL's best back, McGahee would only say, "He's up there."

As impressive as that is, the only stat Tomlinson cares about is wins. As the Chargers seek their tenth win this week in Buffalo, he gets the feeling the Bolts could be on the brink of something big.

"It has been special so far," he said. "Something keeps on happening to us – in times it doesn't look good for us someone comes up with a big play. I think we are a good team. We have all the intangibles and things it takes for a championship team."

Buffalo West

The rivalry may have subsided, but the Chargers and Bills still have some bad blood from back in 2001, when the late John Butler left his post as the general manager in Buffalo to take the same job in San Diego. Butler brought with him then-assistant general manager A.J. Smith as well as a bevy of players.

Those players included Doug Flutie, Marcellus Wiley, Sam Rogers, John Holecek and Steve Christie. The massive West-bound exodus earned the Chargers the nickname "Buffalo West."

None of those players are still on the San Diego roster, and that appears to be a good thing. The Chargers finished the 2001 season in fifth place in the AFC West, a ranking so low it no longer exists. The 2006 Chargers are currently the top team in their division.

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