Bolts Ride Winning Streak to Minnesota

The Chargers are finally playing up to their talent level. San Diego is riding a three-game winning streak in which its average margin of victory is more than 25 points. Now, the Chargers prepare to take the show on the road and aim to hit the halfway point with a 5-3 record.

The Chargers' swagger has once again been located.

After stumbling from the gate with a 1-3 mark, the Chargers head for Minnesota next Sunday riding a three-game winning streak and owning a share of the AFC West lead.

"We've started to get our groove back the last three games," safety Marlon McCree said.

The Chargers dominated the Houston Texans, 35-10, in Sunday's game. It was their first game after their bye and came on the heels of the devastating San Diego fires which forced 24 players to be evacuated from their homes.

But the Chargers didn't let the distraction interrupt their preparations for the Texans. They practiced for three days at the Cardinals' facility and said the time together increased the bond among teammates.

It's overcoming obstacles -- like the slow start, the fires -- which many speculate will help the Chargers later in the season.

Whatever the reason, the Chargers hardly resemble the team which struggled so much in the first month.

"I think we're doing well in all three aspects of the game now," inside linebacker Matt Wilhelm said. "You can just feel there is a different aura about us now and the confident is continuing to build."

Right guard Mike Goff agrees. But he also said the slow start, in part, was due to the Chargers' rivals. Two of the team's three losses came at the hands of the Patriots and Packers.

"I'm not using this as an excuse or a crutch but we played some pretty darn good teams," Goff said. "But the thing is we are playing now how we expected to play.

"Any time you start 1-3 you sit there and hit that system check button. We had to do that to ourselves. We had to look at what we were doing different from last year. This isn't last year's team and there are different circumstances. But what it comes down, too, is us playing the way we're accustomed to and precedent we set for ourselves."

But the veteran Goff knows momentum means only so much in the NFL. Especially when a hot team goes on the road.

"Yeah, we got a three-game winning streak going," he said. "But it really means nothing because the only thing that is important is next week. And the Metrodome is not an easy place to play. We got a big challenge coming up. So we got to put this behind us and go up to Minnesota."

Awaiting is the Vikings' dynamite running back Adrian Peterson.

"He hits the hole hard and is breaking arm tackles," Wilhelm said. "Obviously you give him some room he can go the distance. It's a matter of everyone pursuing the ball and closing down the running lanes."

Offensively, the Chargers are showing a different look. The addition of wide receiver Chris Chambers -- acquired during the bye week -- allows more opportunities for other Chargers weapons.

It was obvious in the win over the Texans as tight end Antonio Gates was wide open for his two touchdown receptions.

"He's tremendous," Gates said of Chambers. "The one thing that we were missing was experience at that position. He comes in with a lot of experience and a lot of leadership. It's just the way he plays -- he elevates everybody else playing with him."


--DT Jamal Williams should return Sunday after skipping the last game while recovering from two arthroscopic knee surgeries during the bye week.

--OLB Shaun Phillips' availability against the Vikings is in question. He was forced from the game last week with a groin injury.

--CB Antonio Cromartie, a first-round pick last year, had two touchdowns -- one off an interception and the other when recovering an errant snap on a punt. Cromartie plays on the Chargers' nickel packages.

--CB Quentin Jammer left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury but it isn't believed to be serious.

--C Nick Hardwick (foot) will miss at least one more game.

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