Schottenheimer a playoff goat

If the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets can throw out their first meeting, shouldn't everyone else be able to throw out head coach Marty Schottenheimer's playoff success, or lack thereof?

Coach Marty Schottenheimer, the stage is yours. Even if it's one which hasn't been too kind.

The Chargers head into their first-round playoff game with the visiting New York Jets on Saturday night behind Schottenheimer, the NFL's winningest active coach with 177 victories.

But Schottenheimer's postseason showing of 5-11 is what raises eyebrows. To everyone but Schottenheimer.

"My approach to it is that you can't hide from it," Schottenheimer said. "It is what it is. We have not been nearly as effective in the playoffs as I would like to have been. But again, there's no re-dos.

"We lost some tough ones, some close ones."

Included in those defeats are three in AFC title games. But maybe this year, with the NFL's surprise team being his Chargers, he can go where he has never gone before: the Super Bowl.

Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees said people dwelling on Schottenheimer's playoff mark is a waste of time.

"These are probably the same people that were saying a year ago that Peyton Manning wasn't a playoff quarterback," Brees said. "I mean, come on.

"People are always going to come up with reasons to criticize. There are people always trying to bring you down. There's no doubt that Marty and all of us have the ability to go out and win a championship."

Running back LaDainian Tomlinson agreed with his quarterback. The Pro Bowl runner didn't even know Schottenheimer's playoff record when the question was posed.

"That let's you know how much I've paid attention to his playoff past," he said. "It really doesn't mean anything. He's coaching us and we're a different team than he's had in the past. We're going to leave it in the past."

It's about the only thing not on Schottenheimer's resume. Some wonder if the omission of a Super Bowl appearance might keep him from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But Schottenheimer said if his career comes and go without a Vince Lombardi Trophy, so be it.

"Obviously, that's why we are in this, to reach a point where we can be a part of a championship football team," Schottenheimer said. "Like I've said before, when I'm done, I'll sit back and kick back and enjoy my grandkids. I'll reflect, in large part, on the good times."

And not on The Drive or The Fumble. Maybe, just maybe, that Chargers team of 2004 will be one of Schottenheimer's fondest memories.

Why not? If the Red Sox can win the World Series, Phil Mickelson can win a Major and the Pistons can upset the Lakers for a title, why can't the Chargers follow suit?

"I certainly would like to think that this football team this year gives us a chance to move into it," Schottenheimer said of the playoff tournament. "What I fully expect is that it will come down to two or three plays somewhere in the course of the game, made or unmade."

Lightning Quicks:

The NFL Alumni organization honored LB Donnie Edwards and TE Antonio Gates as the best players at their positions. Schottenheimer was its coach of the year.

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