Ailing Bolts Feel Good About Win

The Chargers were giddy Monday, and why not after their thrilling overtime win on Sunday in Tennessee. But the Chargers weren't exactly waltzing through their facility the day after.

The fallout from the 23-17 victory was evident when coach Norv Turner pulled out his extensive list of injured players.

Atop that list is Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman and his sprained knee.

"Merriman won't play on Sunday and it could be a few weeks," Turner said.

Merriman, a two-time Pro Bowler, leads the Chargers with 11.5 sacks after getting two in one half on Sunday.

But Merriman isn't alone on that list.

Quarterback Philip Rivers hobbled to the podium, dragging along his sprained left knee. Rivers was hurt Sunday but thinks he will play next Sunday.

"I have every plan to," Rivers said.

But Turner wasn't as certain, listing Rivers as questionable for Sunday. If nothing else, it's obvious Rivers' practice time will be compromised as the Chargers, winners of three straight, face the visiting Lions on Sunday.

Pro Bowl fullback Lorenzo Neal is out Sunday and possibly the year. He fractured his fibula Sunday.

"I said, 'Geez Lo, it's a leg-whip or kick; you're going to be OK, right?'" running back LaDainian Tomlinson asked Neal. "He said, 'Oh yeah, I could have played.' I said, 'Yeah, right.'

"It's a very big loss for us."

Pro Bowl nose tackle Jamal Williams (ankle) is also on the questionable list for Sunday. Same goes for right guard Mike Goff (ankle, foot).

The Chargers are banged-up but at least their psyche is fine after beating a winning team on the road for the first time this year. They hold a two-game cushion in the AFC West, and could clinch consecutive titles with a Denver loss Thursday and a Chargers win on Sunday.

That would make everyone feel better.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Much was made of the TV shot of RB LaDainian Tomlinson bolting from the bench just when QB Philip Rivers sat down. But the teammates, who this year have had "competitive discussions" during games, claim everything is groovy. "I just got up to go say something to the linemen, just to tell them, 'Guys, listen, we're about to break some. Keep it going.'"

--The Chargers are convinced the Titans were guilty of cheap shots when taking out OLB Shawne Merriman in the first half. Some Chargers said they overheard some Titans saying Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher ordered the cheap shots after Fisher took issue with Merriman colliding with Titans QB Vince Young on a running play. "He was laying on the ground and two (Titans) offensive linemen came (and) jumped on him," S Marlon McCree said. "It was a real dirty play."

Merriman didn't return for the second half with a strained knee. Coach Norv Turner said the play in which Merriman was hurt, as well as others, would be sent to the league for clarification.

--Despite starting but five games, CB Antonio Cromartie has tied a team record with nine interceptions in a season. He got his ninth on Sunday. "For me, it means a lot," he said. "But also, it's not a big concern to me. I just go out every day and just try to play football the right way. That's my biggest thing."

Cromartie tied the mark set by Charlie McNeal in 1961, the team's first year in San Diego. Cromartie said before the season his goal was 10 interceptions.

--LT Marcus McNeill was getting manhandled by the Titans' Kyle Vanden Bosch early in the game when McNeill felt a tug on his shoulder pads. "We grabbed Marcus on the sideline and said, 'If you don't block this sucker, we ain't going to have a chance to win,'" Turner said. "We can't help everybody. He struggled early, and then he did a great job."

Vanden Bosch ended up with three sacks.

--The Chargers now have one road triumph over a winning team (Titans), matching the number at home (Colts).

--The Chargers scored on three of their final four possessions to pull out the win. And the series they didn't score set up their winning score in that a Mike Scifres punt was downed at the San Diego 2-yard line.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--QB Philip Rivers ran his starting record to 22-7.

--FB Andrew Pinnock will replace Lorenzo Neal.

--OLB Shawne Merriman became the sixth player in NFL history to record double-digit sack totals in his first three years. Merriman had two sacks Sunday, giving him a team-high 11 1/2 on the year. Merriman strained his knee Sunday and will be evaluated during the week. With Merriman out, Marques Harris gets the start.

--RT Jeromey Clary will remain in the starting lineup, after replacing Shane Olivea.

--RB Darren Sproles (knee) wasn't able to go Sunday, and he could stay down another week.

--DE Luis Castillo (ankle) is still one-to-two weeks from playing.

--QB Billy Volek got a sniff of the field Sunday when Rivers was briefly forced to the sidelines. Volek's return to Tennessee didn't go so well as he threw an interception and an incomplete pass.

--TE Antonio Gates overcame a balky back in returning to play Sunday. He could be eased into practice this week.

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the second consecutive week and 42nd time in his remarkable career.

--P Mike Scifres has bruised ribs but will be OK to punt on Sunday.


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