San Diego Charged Up for Playoff Run

The Chargers head to Jacksonville after accomplishing something they hadn't done all season: beat a winning team. The Super Bowl champions Colts were the victim as the Chargers hope their stunning victory serves as a springboard to a successful second half.

The Chargers won because one of the NFL's all-time clutch kickers, Adam Vinatieri, missed a 29-yarder with 1:31 remaining. Sunday's win propelled the Chargers into first place in the AFC West, despite being but a game above .500.

"We control our own destiny," linebacker Shaun Phillips said. "If we win our games, then we win our division and that's what we are looking forward to doing.

"First we have to start with Jacksonville."

Phillips sounds confident but one wonders about his sincerity. The Chargers have been dreadful on the road, losing three of four games. Their lone win was impressive in that it came in Denver, but they've also lost to the then-2-5 Vikings in Minnesota.

Last year, when streaking to a 14-2 regular season, the Chargers were 6-2 away from Qualcomm Stadium.

The Chargers reach Florida with question marks swirling about their struggling offense. The unit that led the NFL last year isn't performing with anywhere near the same efficiency.

"It's going to have to change fast if we plan on making a playoff run," said Tomlinson, who rushed for 76 yards and a score on 21 carries against the Colts.

"It's obvious we are struggling on offense for a number of reasons," said coach Norv Turner.

The front line play has been inconsistent and the same goes for Philip Rivers.

Rivers has gone from being stellar last season in his first year as a starter (22 touchdowns, seven interceptions) to throwing 10 touchdown passes, 10 interceptions and losing four fumbles -- two of which have been recovered for touchdowns.

Despite Peyton Manning throwing a franchise-record six interceptions, the Chargers managed but one touchdown.

"We certainly know that we're going to have to do more than that down the road," Rivers said.

Added Tomlinson: "Quite honestly, offensively we are not playing good."

The next four games offer a stiff test. Following Jacksonville the Chargers entertain the Ravens, then hit the road again with trips to Kansas City and Tennessee.

One bright light has been the play of cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

One week after setting the NFL record by returning a failed field goal 109 yards for a score, he intercepted Manning three times in his first career start. That gives him an NFL-high six interceptions on the season.

"It means a lot," said Cromartie, a second-year pro who was subbing for Quentin Jammer (hamstring). "You're going against the best quarterback in the NFL."

The Chargers' run defense is out to prove it is back as well in trying to contain the Jaguars' Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor. One week after getting hit for an NFL-record 296 rushing yards by Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, the Chargers held the Colts' Joseph Addai to 56 yards on 22 carries.

"After that showing we had against the Vikings, we didn't appreciate that at all," Merriman said. "We have too much pride as a defense to let that happen."


--C Nick Hardwick (foot) might try to practice this week, although his availability Sunday is unlikely.

--CB Quentin Jammer (hamstring) is cautiously optimistic he can go Sunday after skipping the Colts game.

--DE Luis Castillo (ankle) is out another five games.

--Darren Sproles returned a kick and a punt for touchdowns, the first of his three-year career.

--P Mike Scifres continues a run a solid play. Three of his five punts landed inside the Colts' 20 and he had a long of 61.

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