Emotional leader

Forget about one bad game. Focus on how passionate Philip Rivers was after struggling. He was mad. He was angry. He still led his team to a win - and that is why his teammates love him.

The Chargers head for soggy Seattle, wondering if their young quarterback needs a jolt from an espresso.

Grande Cafe Latte, Mr. Rivers?

The Seahawks, losers of two straight for the second time this year, wait as the Chargers make their final road trip of the regular season. With a win, it could be their last trip of the year -- save the Super Bowl in Miami.

But while those Super Bowl thoughts are fresh on their minds, so is a quarterback, a young quarterback, who was horrible on Sunday night.

Does Philip Rivers deserve a mulligan?

Was it just a bad game to be ignored?

Are the media making too much out of an 8-of-23 night for 97 yards and two interceptions?

"I'll learn from it," Rivers said.

What the NFL and Chargers fans learned was that Rivers can get a little hot when he's ice cold. Once, when leaving the field after yet another incompletion, he gave his helmet the old heave-ho, and it rattled around the bench.

That's good, in a way. One would hate to see their franchise quarterback merely shrug as the wheels wobbled on the offense. It means something to Rivers, but the team really already knew that.

But what the team doesn't know -- and can find out Sunday -- is how Rivers' responds to a stinker. How well does this first-year starter rebound?

"It's good every now and then -- shoot -- to see some things you did that weren't very good and move forward without any huge consequence," said Rivers, who has struggled in two of his past four games. "We won the game. I think that's the key thing to remember: We won."

Win they did, and clinched a first-round bye along the way. A win Sunday could bring with it home-field advantage.

The Chargers seemingly have every advantage offensively, with a balanced attack that features likely MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates and Pro Bowlers at fullback and along the offensive line.

They also have a quarterback who has done everything and more in his first season. So he stubbed his toe? Is that cause for concern or just a reason to watch Rivers a little closer this Sunday in what could be a windy and wet Christmas Eve in Seattle.

Rivers is confident he'll be fine. The most important thing to take from playing the Chiefs last Sunday night wasn't that he had trouble, but that the Chargers prevailed for the eighth straight week.

"I didn't have a great game but we won," said Rivers, the NFL's seventh-highest rated passer. "I'm not playing golf or tennis. We won. If I were playing golf, I definitely would have hit a few out of bounds yesterday."

It's the back nine of a season, which includes a potential Super Bowl run, that the Chargers are concerned with.

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