All about the confidence

Veteran offensive guard Mike Goff was watching Philip Rivers closely, and he said the quarterback never lost his confidence. That doesn't surprise Goff.

"He didn't blink," Goff said. "Ever since Day 1 when he got the reins of this team, he's been calm, cool and collected. Even when things aren't going good."

Two streaks were extended Sunday in the Chargers' 20-17 victory over the Seahawks:

*San Diego ran its winning run to nine games.

*San Diego ran its winning streak to two games in which Philip Rivers played poorly.

Rivers, who has fashioned an AFC-best 13-2 mark in his first year as a starter, stumbled around badly in the rain at Qwest Field.

That being said, he rallied in the final quarter and lofted a 37-yard strike to Vincent Jackson, giving the Chargers the triumph in the final minute.

But overall, again, Rivers was bad. He missed on his first nine passes and finished with 10 completions in 30 attempts for 181 yards and two touchdowns.

The good? Rivers didn't let his poor first three quarters hamper the final quarter.

The bad? It's Rivers, who had an ugly game on the heels of a 4-for-12 stinker the previous week.

But in NFL, winning disguises about everything. And there were nothing but upbeat voices and smiles in the Chargers' winning locker room.

Rivers said the only thing that matters is the team has won both of the past two games when he struggled.

"I think struggle is a misused word," Rivers said. "I am not denying that I haven't played my best football; I think it's football. If you think that you are going to go out and throw 70 percent completions and throw for this and this and everything is going to be lovely and never throw an interception, I think you are kidding yourself."

No, but might the Chargers be kidding themselves? While shrugging off Rivers' subpar play of late, anyone knows it can't continue heading into the playoffs.

But what is impressive is that Rivers hasn't blinked when things were have gone sideways.

"We just kept battling," he said.

"He was good," coach Marty Schottenheimer said, "when he had to be good."

Added Rivers: "You are not playing a one-man sport. I call it a part of football: You battle through it, and I think it's what we have done. I think the key stat is we have won nine in a row, and that is why you have 53 guys, plus coaches, with you so you are not out there by yourself."

  • Qwest Field has a reputation as the toughest place in the NFL for visiting teams to play. Opponents have more false starts there than in any other stadium since the start of the 2005 season.

    "It is a really, really tough to play in this stadium," Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "I always thought that Arrowhead was the toughest, but this place might be as tough as any I have been in. The sound just cascades down from the second level."

    The Chargers were flagged for four false-start penalties. LaDainian Tomlinson egged on the crowd early in the game, but he quickly stopped once he heard how loud the place could get.

    "It was so loud at times it was hard to even hear in the huddle," Tomlinson said.

    Even the Chargers' defensive players had problems.

    "We were on the sidelines trying to get defensive plays and corrections and we couldn't hear each other talking," LB Shawne Merriman said. "We could only imagine the offense out there trying to make audibles and make things happen, but they couldn't because of the crowd."

  • Pro Bowl OLB Shawne Merriman is the NFL co-leader with 15.5 sacks. He had three on Sunday and said the defense didn't mind helping out a struggling offense.

    "That was what we were talking about on the sidelines. We were saying listen, the offense isn't getting it done right now, and we have to step up and play for them," he said. "Even though (QB Philip Rivers) doesn't have a great game, we have to step in and win the game for the offense."

    Merriman is two sacks shy of the team record, set by Gary Johnson in 1980.

  • With 123 rushing yards Sunday, RB LaDainian Tomlinson set the franchise's single-season mark at 1,749. He also eclipsed the 9,000-yard career rushing milepost, joining Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith as the fastest to reach that figure.

    "I'm happy about it," he said of the team mark. "And you never know now that I'm at 1,700 how many I can end up with."

  • The Chargers have now erased four fourth-quarter deficits.

    "For so long it was frustrating to lose games like that, but now we're on the other side of the coin," RB LaDainian Tomlinson said.


    The Seahawks seemed to play with more emotion Sunday than they had in some recent games. Perhaps the AFC-leading Chargers gave the Seahawks extra incentive. Whatever the reason, Seattle will need more of the same heading into the playoffs.

    "We battled hard," coach Mike Holmgren said following the 20-17 defeat at Qwest Field. "I was much more impressed with how we played than the last couple weeks."

    Seattle led the Chargers, 17-13, in the final minute. A blown coverage allowed San Diego to score the winning touchdown with 29 seconds remaining. Players took the loss hard even though Holmgren found some silver linings.

    "There is no question that we're very upset about losing the game," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "There are guys that were crying in the locker room. People are really upset because we put a lot of energy and effort into this, and we have a lot of pride and I feel we have a lot of character."

    That character hasn't always shone through on the field. The team was happiest Sunday about getting its ground game going against a solid San Diego defense. Running back Shaun Alexander finished with 140 yards on 31 carries. He scored on touchdown runs of 33 and nine yards.

    "This is the healthiest that both Matt and I have been, and this is the first time the line understood their roles," Alexander said. "I think you saw our team. We fought tooth and nail. The weeks before, I don't think we were a good team. I think that we didn't act like a good team. I think that any team could have beaten us."

    Seattle's defense has shown signs of improvement in recent weeks despite a few lapses. Young quarterbacks Alex Smith (49ers) and Philip Rivers (Chargers) struggled for long stretches before making plays late in games. At some point Seattle will need its own passing game to make things easier on its defense, particularly late in games.

    The question now is whether Seattle can get things going in time to make another playoff push. The team has already clinched its third consecutive NFC West championship. A first-round home game awaits.

    "I'm happy in some respects," Hasselbeck said, "because I feel at times that we were starting to play our brand of football.

    "We're just not playing our best. It will come ... I hope it will come in time."

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