Philip Rivers and Chargers unearth themselves in time to matter in L.A. – Orange County Register


CARSON – Their performance wasn’t terribly pretty or particularly tidy.

But then, there’s bound to be some dirt flying around when you’re digging up a body, the Chargers on Sunday completing their own exhumation.

“When you start 0-4 and the division leader starts 5-0, you go, ‘Man, it’s going to be tough to even have a chance,’ ” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “But, here we are, with a chance.”

From unlucky to unlikely, Rivers and his teammates are suddenly tied for the lead in the AFC West, all their huffing and puffing in this 19-10 victory over Cleveland pulling them even with Kansas City and Oakland.

They’re still only 6-6. But rarely has .500 felt this much like a winning record, the Chargers playing their way back into the picture from a place that began off the planet.

“I just didn’t think they’d fall back to us that far,” Rivers said. “Sitting there at 0-4, I remember having the thought, ‘Hey, heck with Kansas City and the division. Let’s just see if we can fight our way back into the mix.’ That’s why you keep going.”

A comeback this staggering is too much for one team to accomplish on its own. With K.C. losing six of its past seven, the Chargers received the help they so desperately needed.

Now, they’re looking at a four-game season — with upcoming dates opposite both the Chiefs and Raiders — after opening the year with a four-game free fall.

In their first year in Los Angeles, the Chargers have done something that once seemed as impossible to comprehend as the legions of enemy fans that have invaded StubHub Center this fall.

They’ve made themselves and their games actually matter.

“It’s key to not get too excited, (like) we’ve really done something,” Rivers said. “It’s exciting to be in the month of December and have everything in front of us, have a lot on the line. It’s been a handful of years.”

Just ask the people in San Diego, the fans the Chargers left behind, the folks who spent most of their recent Decembers watching a team with a snowball’s chance in Chula Vista.

Merry Christmas, America’s Finest City! Your former team waited to flee before becoming relevant again! How’s that for a white elephant gift?

Of course, the Chargers still have won one playoff game since 2009, and this bunch so far has done nothing more than undo the mess it initially made for itself.

On Sunday, the Chargers too often left the red zone red-faced, converting for a touchdown just once…

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