SAN DIEGO — The Chargers have one more week remaining for the 2013 regular season — a season which saw the debut of a new head coach, a new general manager and a new feeling of optimism.
Though that optimism of the season was tempered by a sense of realism, which set in following injuries to key players and a constantly shifting offensive line, to name just a couple of issues, the Chargers have rallied to an 8-7 record and the door to a possible playoff appearance still remains open.
Losses from the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens, and the Chargers 26-13 win against the Raiders on Sunday, lent an extra sense of optimism in making the playoffs to permeate throughout every facet of the organization from team President Dean Spanos, to general manager Tom Telesco and especially the players.
“Lookout, there’s a pulse,” quarterback Philip Rivers shouted before entering the locker room in response to the win.
But he knows they can only control their end of things, and that involves beating Kansas City next week to end the regular season.
Still, even if the Chargers win, they’ll need help, and Rivers said that that was their own fault. “We should have clinched it today,” he said. “We should have clinched a spot today, but those are all ‘What ifs?’ We didn’t. We can’t go back. We can get to 4-2 in the division — win our last division games to get to 4-2 — that’s all we can control.”
With four field goals on the day, kicker Nick Novak tied a Chargers record with former kicker Nate Kaeding for second most field goals made in a season at 32.
The record for most kicks in a season was set by John Carney with 34 field goals in 1994.
The Chargers have relied a lot on Novak’s leg this season, and he credits being able to spend a full season with the team, his teammates and a consistent technique for his success.
Head coach Mike McCoy has set parameters for when he goes to Novak or whether he punts with Mike Scifres.
Novak said he always gives McCoy a yard line that he’s feeling good at before the game. “And if we pass that threshold then we’re off (for the) field goal no matter; whether it’s the 35-yard line or 36-yard line, it just depends on that.”
Once they get to that point, Novak knows that it’s time to get ready to kick the field goal.
Considering where the team sat several weeks ago, Rivers said they wouldn’t be satisfied with finishing the season 9-7, but it’s a sign of character, of team toughness.
“We’ve always fought to the end, and we’re going to fight like crazy to do our part and if it’s not enough, it’s not enough. But we’ve got to make sure to hold up our end,” he said. The Chargers finish the regular season at Qualcomm Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs Dec. 29.