Chargers Carry Confidence to KC

The Chargers enter Sunday's game against the Chiefs boasting of something that has been in short supply: confidence.

Kansas City is never an easy place to play, but the Chargers (5-8) arrive after ending a two-game losing streak by defeating Oakland.

The Chargers had dropped two straight at home and were close to squashing their dwindling chances of making the playoffs for the third time in four years. But by thumping the Raiders for the 11th consecutive time, the Chargers still have a pulse as they try and chase down the AFC West-leading Broncos.


HC Norv Turner
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The win also allowed embattled coach Norv Turner a respite from a barrage of criticism for the Chargers' dismal season. While Turner took the Chargers to the AFC Championship Game last season, his regular-season record with the Chargers is 16-13; they were 14-2 the year before he replaced Marty Schottenheimer.

"Coach (Turner) didn't flinch last year and he sure didn't flinch this year," quarterback Philip Rivers said.

"It's tough. It's tough emotionally and mentally, day-to-day, for a team. There is not a lot of rah-rah at 4-8. But Coach keeps coming in there every week with the same demeanor like last year when we got hot."

While others are cool to Turner's return next year, general manager A.J. Smith has already delivered a vote of confidence to Turner for 2009.

The Chargers are still clinging to 2008 and the hopes of sneaking in the playoffs. But to do so, they will likely need to win out and get some help from Denver's foes. The Chargers do cap the regular season with a home game against the Broncos.

"We can't worry about sustaining this for three more weeks," linebacker Shaun Phillips said. "We have to worry about sustaining this into next week. We have got to take this one game at a time because if we look too far down the road, we'll be nowhere fast."

The Chargers are in this predicament because of their shoddy play the second half of the season. They lost five of six games -- including two at home -- to nearly be eliminated from any meaningful games down the stretch. But they remain alive -- another reason to count their blessings for playing in the AFC West.

"Regardless of what happens with Denver, which we can't control, we are going to keep playing hard," Rivers said. "We are going to play with the same intensity, the same passion regardless. It was good to get a win and to at least keep the shot alive at playing in January."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a big win for us and it's a confidence boost. But we don't want to make it out like we just won the Super Bowl. We just take it one game at a time and that's it." -- Running back LaDainian Tomlinson after the Raiders game.

TRENDING: The Chargers have won 11 consecutive games in December. The Chargers' last loss in the month came in a season-ending game to the Broncos in 2005. It was the last game Drew Brees played for the Chargers.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--WR Vincent Jackson is coming off a stellar game in which he collected a career-high 148 receiving yards on five catches.

--RB Darren Sproles scored two touchdowns in a game for the third time in his career. But it was the first time he did it with two receptions.

--SS Clinton Hart (neck) could return Sunday after missing Thursday's game.

--FB Mike Tolbert (shoulder) could try to practice this week; he's missed the past two games.

--OLB Shaun Phillips is hoping to build on a career-high 2.5-sack game in the win over the Raiders. Phillips had but one-half sack in the previous six contests.

--LB Anthony Waters (hamstring) will be re-evaluated this week. --OLB Jyles Tucker (hamstring) could have his practice time compromised this week.

--OLB Marques Harris (hamstring) will try to practice this week.


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