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Chargers give San Diego hope for a winner

This team has rejuvenated the community like the old Charger teams . . . no, not those teams, the teams who won.

By Associated Press
Published January 8, 2005

SAN DIEGO - Standing on the sideline last Sunday, Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards felt himself having an out-of-body experience.

The Chargers had just scored against Kansas City and the disco song San Diego Super Chargers from the Air Coryell era was playing on the public-address system.

"For a split moment, I took myself out of reality. I thought, "Oh, my God, this is me 20 years ago sitting in the stands watching Dan Fouts throwing the ball to Charlie Joiner,' " said Edwards, who grew up in a working-class suburb of San Diego.

"So that feeling is here again, in my eyes. I hope we can continue and get to our ultimate goal, which is the Super Bowl."

Yes, the Bolts are back in the playoffs, having ended one of their characteristic long postseason droughts - the latest lasted eight seasons - and will host the wild-card Jets in prime time on what could be a very wet night tonight.

Pro Bowl players Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates, who powered a high-scoring, exciting offense, will be making their playoff debuts. Edwards will play in just the second postseason game in his nine-year career, the first having come seven seasons ago with the Chiefs.

Tackle Roman Oben and receiver Keenan McCardell will play on the same field where they helped Tampa Bay win the Super Bowl two years ago.

Coach Marty Schottenheimer, who helped turn the Chargers from a 4-12 laughingstock into AFC West champions at 12-4, will be looking to do something about his 5-11 postseason record.

And the bandwagon has never been more full.

"I think it's awesome. Everyone is really on a high," Edwards said. "It's been a long time since we gave the Chargers fans something to have pride in and be excited for. I know a lot of guys who have been sitting on their Chargers hat and not really wearing it.

"If you go out in the community now, there are bumper stickers, there's flags out there. The fans are strong and they're loud, and I'm just really happy to have them back."

On Sept. 19, the Chargers looked anything like a playoff team when they lost 34-28 to the Jets. Curtis Martin ran for 119 yards and scored on the Jets' first two possessions. Brees had two interceptions, lost a fumble and suffered a concussion.

"That game feels like it was five seasons ago," said Brees, who finished the season with 27 TD passes and seven interceptions. "I think we've come so far. At that time in the season, we hadn't really found ourselves, and now we have. We started a great win streak and we want to start another win streak."

[Last modified January 8, 2005, 00:48:19]


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