Rivers Answers the Bell, Delivers Win

The ringing in the Chargers' ears quickly switched from jeers to cheers. San Diego manhandled Baltimore 32-14 Sunday before another sellout crowd at Qualcomm Stadium. And the Chargers heard the spectators loud and clear.

Showing how frustrated the fans have become with this up-and-down team, they started booing on the offense's first series, which resulted in a punt.

"I'd like to say I don't hear it, but I don't like to lie," coach Norv Turner said. "I just think it's unfortunate because I don't think people understand. This team (Baltimore) is second in the league in rush defense. Certainly, there were some things we wanted to do early to feel them out. It's a long game."

It was a long game, especially for the Ravens, who had trouble getting past the Chargers defense.

The offense also was clicking, with Philip Rivers having one of his better days as a pro in recording his 20th career win. And he seemed to enjoy silencing the boos as much as connecting with his receivers.

"What they (the fans) don't know is we're just as frustrated," Rivers said. "We know they want us to win and pull for us 100 percent. They want us to put a couple together, as we do.

"We're just as mad as they are when we don't make something happen."

That frustration comes from this team being advertised as among the NFL's elite squads after posting a 14-2 mark last year. But with the Chargers yet to live up to their preseason billing -- they were sharp on Sunday -- the fans have been growing restless.

Especially with the skittish Rivers, who has played well below last year's Pro Bowl-level.

"I'm happy, especially for him, because he's been taking a lot of criticism, kind of going through adversity," said tight end Antonio Gates, who caught two of Rivers' three touchdown passes Sunday. "The outside perspective of the San Diego Chargers offense is kind of based around him. That's not the case. It takes 11 guys on the offense to make a play work."

But Chargers backers are primed for a work-in-progress. They want excellence, and on Sunday, their wish was granted.

Now the Chargers control their own destiny, a game up over the Broncos in the AFC West. Despite their roller-coaster ride, and the fans' skepticism, the Chargers are eager to mention they can still accomplish all of their goals.

NOTES, QUOTES

--QB Philip Rivers was upbeat over his touchdown pass to Chris Chambers because it came after both saw a particular coverage. The two were able to communicate through body language. "It was unspoken, and that is something you don't get with a guy real easy, knowing him just three or four weeks," Rivers said. "That was a big step for us."

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson became the 23rd player in NFL history to eclipse the 10,000-yard barrier. He did it on his longest run of the day, a 36-yard scamper down the left sideline. "It's 10,000 yards, and it's been the benchmark for a lot of running backs in this league," Tomlinson said. "I never set out to get 10,000 yards; that was not a goal of mine. I kind of take it like, you get 10,000 yards, but that means you're getting older, too. With a milestone, they will pat you on the back, but they are ready to kick you out the door."

--TE Antonio Gates had 40 catches over the first five games, then 14 in the next five. The Chargers got him back into the mix Sunday, when he caught six balls for 106 yards and two scores. "We're trying to throw to Gates every week," QB Philip Rivers said. "But certain teams try to take him away -- they game-plan, too. I think, too, with the team we got -- L.T., Gates, (Chris) Chambers and our young receivers -- to base it off how many catches Gates gets a week is unfair in this offense with the weapons we got."

--The Chargers will be gunning for their second three-game winning streak of the season when they go to Kansas City. But the road hasn't been kind to the Chargers, where they've gone 1-4. They have won once in their last 10 visits to Kansas City.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--S Eric Weddle didn't show any drop-off from his recent knee injury and had one interception slip through his fingers.

--CB Antonio Cromartie has eclipsed Drayton Florence in the starting role opposite Quentin Jammer.

--RT Shane Olivea gave way to Jeromey Clary late in the game when his back started acting up. That's worth watching this week.

--C Nick Hardwick returned and gave the offensive line a boost after missing four games with a foot injury. Hardwick is savvy in getting out the blocking calls.

--WR Vincent Jackson had one of his better games of the season, catching five passes for 65 yards. His long of 31 yards was the longest to a wideout all game.

--DE Igor Olshansky was stellar against the Ravens, collecting five tackles and a sack and forcing a fumble.

--DE Jacques Cesaire continues to play well while filling in for Luis Castillo. Cesaire's day included a sack.

--CB Steve Gregory (stinger) should be OK this week.

--DE Luis Castillo (ankle) will miss the next three weeks.


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