SAN DIEGO — A heavy weight seemed all but to be lifted off the collective backs of the Chargers after their 30-21 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.Sure, the AFC West division leading Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs are 4-0, but the thought of going 1-3 on the season would have been rough, said quarterback Philip Rivers after the game.
And the win, which both Rivers and head coach Mike McCoy described as a “team win,” came with as yet more players were shuffled around to fill in for starters lost to injuries.
Finding the “best 53” guys to play has been McCoy’s mantra since taking over the team this season, and finding any sense of consistency can be difficult in terms of who’s out there when the offensive line, even the core group of receivers changes weekly.
“You always want to have a consistent group out there,” said Rivers. “We don’t want the shuffling of the o-line like we had (Sunday), but when it happens, you have to expect and trust that guys will step up and they did.”
Rivers praised his offensive line, including Stephen Schilling, Johnnie Troutman, Mike Harris and D.J. Fluker. “And then the glue that holds that all together is (Nick) Hardwick. They were awesome.”
“We didn’t really miss a beat,” said rookie tackle D.J. Fluker, who sat out during the loss against the Tennessee Titans two weeks ago, after sustaining a concussion during a practice. The first concussion, he said, he’s ever had in his career.
“I was in rage mode because I don’t like missing games,” he said. “I don’t like not being a part of the team, but I was a part of the team…to heighten them up. That was my job, to heighten them up, get ‘em going.”
He said that seeing the team play against Tennessee, he wished he could’ve played and made a difference.
“But sometimes you can make a difference,” Fluker said. “Sometimes, it’s better to sit out. That’s what they told me to do, and that’s what I did. But other than that I was happy to be back out there on the field. I felt like a little kid on the field,” he said.
Rivers also spoke about connecting with new receivers with their main starters out.
“Who would’ve thought that we weren’t going to have D.A. (Denario Alexander) and Malcolm (Floyd) week four of the season – D.A. not even start the year. But guys have stepped up….
“We expected a lot from Vincent Brown; Keenan Allen probably gets thrown in there sooner than anybody thought and he was big today, (and) Eddie (Royal)’s been rolling.”
Allen, who made several key receptions in Sunday’s game said he definitely doesn’t feel like a rookie out there and that he’s handled the extra responsibility of taking on a larger role with the team well.
“Just go out there and do what you do that you’ve been doing for the past 14 years of your life,” Allen said. “Just treat it like practice, even though it’s not practice, definitely treat it like practice, try to make everything smooth, try to keep the confidence and try to stay positive.”
Rivers said that it’s been good that they’ve had a lot of guys involved so far this season, but if they’d been healthy from the start, their record could be different.
“Ifs and buts don’t get you anything,” Rivers said. “We know what we could be sitting here right now, but we’re not. But I think it’s big that we got to 2-2…I know we’ve been 1-3 before, but it’d been rough going to 1-3. This is a huge game.”
Rivers doesn’t care what the other people are doing in the division, but it’s a fact, he said, adding that they can’t just expect to dig themselves out of 1-3s.
“It’s a long fight back when you go 1-3,” he said. “These kinds of wins and games early on when you have a lot of young guys playing, you have a lot of guys playing that maybe we didn’t expect were going to have to play, they gain experience, you gain confidence, you gain toughness.
For Fluker, he said his comfort level still isn’t there.
“I’m not comfortable, because I haven’t arrived yet,” he said. “I haven’t arrived at getting to where I’m trying to be…I’m comfortable in my offense, but my comfort level (overall) I’m just not satisfied.”
But Rivers said that with these wins, the 53 guys have gotten better than they were the week before because of the experience and the toughness and how they were all tested.
“And I think winning can be contagious,” Rivers said.