Bolts Must Dig Out of Mile-deep Hole

The Chargers are picking one tough place to get their season back on track: Denver. Surprised with their 1-3 start after being touted as a Super Bowl favorite, the Chargers are picking through the wreckage and trying to get right. But Denver is seldom a kind place to the Chargers.

The Broncos let the Chargers rally for win last year in Denver, their first there since 1999. And if the Chargers are to win consecutive games at the mile-high city, it would be the first time since 1967-68.

But the Chargers have little choice than to try and buck the odds as well as the Broncos. What was promised as a magical season on the heels of last year's 14-2 run has been nothing but a nightmare.

"Right now it's imperative the guys on the team stick together," said tight end Antonio Gates, as the Chargers reside alone in the AFC West cellar. "It's imperative that the leaders still become leaders."

One of those leaders is NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson. But Tomlinson said he's grown weary of yapping and just wants to let his play do the talking.

"There is only so much talking you can do," said Tomlinson, who first 100-yard rushing game of the season came in the loss to the Chiefs. "You can talk until you are blue in the face, but at some point you need to play football and prove it.

"What defines a leader? (It is) you talking every day and telling guys what they need to do, or going out on the field setting an example on the right things to do. For the most part, we have talked enough."

The Chargers finally got their running game on track Sunday in building a 16-6 lead, and then for some reason abandoned it. Tomlinson had but six carries in the second half.

Tomlinson didn't have an answer as to why head coach Norv Turner, who calls the plays, went with that approach.

"I don't know about the second half," Tomlinson said. "We tried to do some other things ... I don't know."

What's certain is the Chargers need a big showing in Denver. The season is young but it has reached a critical point.

"Every game is critical, there is no question," Turner said. "I know what they want to get done and they're going to do everything in their power to get it done."

Rivers is among those not getting it done. He had three turnovers in the Chiefs loss -- two interceptions and a lost fumble. After throwing only nine interceptions all of last year he has six in four games. At this rate, he'll have 24 picks at season's end.

"Certainly we didn't think we would be sitting here at 1-3," Rivers said. "We have a lot of ground to make up and a lot of room to improve."

Some speculate the Chargers -- a strong team under proven head coach Marty Schottenheimer -- might fracture under Turner, who has a 59-85-1 record.

"That's always a concern of any team that's losing," Rivers said. "Things are going to continue to go south or you turn it around. We've got the right guys to turn it around. We always speak of that."

But it's the Chargers' shoddy play which is speaking volumes. And what was heard loud and clear in the home loss to Kansas City was the chant for a certain coach: "Marty, Marty, Marty."

"We understand to an extent their frustration," Rivers said. "We're frustrated way more than anyone outside of the locker room, I guarantee that. We can't really worry about everyone else's feelings. We have to go out and play and we want to get this thing turned around."


--ILB Matt Wilhelm (calf) could return to the lineup Sunday after starting but one game.

--WR Vincent Jackson is still battling consistency as he dropped a pass in the end zone.

--RB Michael Turner, LaDainian Tomlinson's backup, didn't help his cause for more playing time when he fumbled on his first carry. He has been replaced as the kick returner by Darren Sproles.

--WR Eric Parker (toe) is out at least one more week.

--Rookie LB Brandon Siler is playing in the short-yardage defense and had a big stop on a fourth-and-goal at the 1. He is also starting to contribute on special teams.

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