Bolts Quickly Shift Focus to Indy

The Chargers became the ninth 8-8 team to reach the playoffs -- and they could care less.

After falling three games behind the AFC West-leading Broncos with three games remaining, the Chargers staged a stunning rally. Their reward is their third straight AFC West title and a playoff berth for the fourth time in five seasons. They will face the Indianapolis Colts Saturday.

Despite a midseason slide that saw them drop five of six games and showing zero victories against playoff-bound teams, the Chargers are bound for the postseason.

"It's great but there's a bigger picture," linebacker Shaun Phillips said. "We want a world championship but in order to do that we need to start with the Indianapolis Colts. I'm sure that they will come in here fired up and ready to go."


LaDainian Tomlinson & Brandon Manumaleuna
Jeff Gross/Getty

The Chargers reached this station thanks to a four-game winning streak and the Broncos losing three straight. It was a late rally that was fueled in part by LaDainian Tomlinson's speaking to the team about not giving up when the season looked lost.

"It's a great feeling and it's a tribute to the guys that kept believing and kept fighting," Tomlinson said. "We have very prideful guys in that locker room.

"At the point that we were 4-8, we didn't know what was going to happen with Denver but, for us, it was about how we wanted to finish."

Among the reasons was the stellar play of quarterback Philip Rivers down the stretch. Rivers broke Dan Fouts' team record by throwing his 33rd touchdown pass in the regular-season finale.

"It's exciting," Rivers said. "We know the expectations we set out and how high they were at the start of the year. All we've done is reopen some of those goals and some of those expectations, now that we've got ourselves into January."

The Chargers ran their December winning streak to 14 games and they enter hoping Tomlinson is OK. Tomlinson was to undergo an MRI for a strained groin, but he didn't think the injury was serious.

Tomlinson rushed for 96 yards Sunday.

"To me it's simple -- the guys up front totally dominated," Tomlinson said. "They did what any good line does, take control over the game. The run game is about tempo and we were able to get in one and it worked for us."

Quote: "I think that once you get into the playoffs, it doesn't matter how you got into them, it's 0-0 now. We're on a good roll; we're ending the season on a good note. Now it's time to go into the postseason and make a good run." -- Left guard Kris Dielman.

Trending: The Chargers face the Colts for the second straight year in the playoffs. Last season, the visiting Chargers upset the Colts to reach their fourth AFC championship game in franchise history. In addition to winning on the road, the Chargers did it with Rivers and Tomlinson out with injuries during the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Billy Volek and former Charger Michael Turner played key roles.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--TE Antonio Gates sprained an ankle in the win over Denver, but it isn't considered serious.

--WR Malcom Floyd missed his second straight game after suffering a collapsed lung. There's an outside shot he could play Saturday.

--QB Philip Rivers set a team mark -- and led the NFL -- with a 105.5 rating.

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson averaged a season-best 6.9 rushing yards per carry on Sunday night. Tomlinson didn't play in the fourth quarter because of a strained groin and finished with 96 yards. Tomlinson had a season-best three touchdowns. Tomlinson is expected to play on Saturday.

--WR Vincent Jackson has replaced Chris Chambers as the team's top wideout.


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