When the Chargers and Ravens met last season, it was a clash of two of the league's elite teams. In…
The AFC's top two playoff seeds of last season come limping into Sunday's game at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Chargers are in first place in the AFC West, but at 5-5 this season hasn't been much of an encore to last year's 14-2 showing.
The Ravens (4-6) are in more dire straits, losers of four straight and getting ready to kiss off their season minus a quick turnaround.
Two teams that desperately need a victory should make for an interesting game.
"Both teams need a win badly," LaDainian Tomlinson said. "They have lost four straight. We need a win badly. That's going to be the mindset of both teams -- just getting a win. I'll tell you one thing -- both teams feel like they can beat each other. We feel like we can beat them and I guarantee they feel they can beat us."
The Ravens did just that last season, but that was in Baltimore. The Chargers look to find their old magic at home Sunday, which is a better alternative than the road. In away games, the Chargers are 1-4.
"There's still a third of the season left," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "I'm not asking for any sympathy or anybody to feel sorry for us, but there's a third of the season left and this could still turn out to be as great a year as we set it out to be. We just have to have the right mindset."
Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle could be starting together at cornerback for the first time since the second game of the season.
Rolle has missed six games this season due to epilepsy, which he revealed on Wednesday. He has had three major seizures during the season but said he has the illness under control with medication.
The Ravens have not expressed any added concerns about Rolle returning to start Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
"We wouldn't put him out there if there were any limitations on him," coach Brian Billick said. "We always worry anytime a guy has been dealing with something the entire season. But he seems ready to go, energetic. We feel very good about him."
McAlister has missed three games with a right knee strain but returned to play well last Sunday.
He hasn't practiced all week, which the Ravens called a precautionary measure.
"Hopefully, he'll be available for Sunday," Billick said. "It's one of those minimal activity during the week and see what we can get on Sunday."
Playing without Rolle and McAlister, the Ravens pass defense has fallen to 13th in the league. The Ravens have intercepted 12 passes but only four have come from cornerbacks.
The Ravens expect to get a boost with the return of Rolle, who isn't the first athlete to have the illness.
Other professional athletes have played with epilepsy, including Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Alan Faneca.
Rolle, 31, said he has had three major seizures this season, although he now believes he has suffered minor ones for about two years. The seizures in epilepsy may be related to a brain injury or a family tendency, but most of the time the cause is unknown.
Along with the seizures, Rolle suffered such aftereffects as headaches and memory loss, all of which caused him to wonder if his 10-year playing career was over.
Neither Rolle nor the Ravens would disclose his illness over the past two months because Rolle wanted to keep it a private matter.
Rolle said epilepsy hasn't changed his life at home except that he can't drive.
"I know I can play with it," Rolle said. "I think everything will be OK."
The past year has been the toughest of Rolle's life.
He acknowledged the 2006 season was the worst of his NFL career. He got beat deep in several games, causing many fans and media members to call him the weak link of the defense.
During the off-season, Rolle and his wife were in a near catastrophe on an African safari when the door of their single-propeller plane opened while traveling at 6,000 feet. With the door remaining ajar, the plane landed 10 minutes later on a nearby runway.
But the latest ordeal seems to have provided him with more perspective.
"I see him looking at things in a different light," said McAlister, one of Rolle's closer friends on the team. "Football is football. But his life and his family are most important."
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