LB Shawne Merriman (Jamie Squire/Getty)
The Chargers see an old foe in Sunday's opening-round of the playoffs in the Tennessee Titans. And to hear the Chargers, getting revenge finishes second to winning a postseason game.
In the Chargers' win at Nashville on Dec. 9, the game was marked by late hits and questionable tactics. Four players were fined for various infractions.
But the Chargers have bigger fish to fry than getting even over a cheap shot. They're aiming for the first playoff win since their 1994 Super Bowl season.
"It's really do or die," linebacker Shawne Merriman said. "That's harsh to say, but it's true. You win and you go on, or you lose and you go home."
Merriman was among those getting blasted by the Titans, spraining his knee and missing the next two games. But it's the first of what the Chargers hope are four winning games which concerns Merriman and his mates.
"It doesn't matter who we're playing, and I don't think there's any extra motivation because it's Tennessee," said Merriman, the team's leading sacker with 12.5. "Everything that happened in that game, the league took care of it. I'm over it."
Now the Chargers have to get over the Titans. Not only what has happened in the past but what lies ahead.
"There were some unfortunate plays in that game," said quarterback Philip Rivers, who also suffered a sprained knee that day. "What happened, what didn't happen, what were the intentions ... it really doesn't matter. That's not going to really give us any added motivation this week. It's a playoff game. You really don't need much more than that."
--QB Philip Rivers got enough work in before giving way to Billy Volek in the second half to get his rhythm. He completed 13-of-23 passes for 135 yards and two scores. After a sketchy stretch in the middle of the season, Rivers has been playing well of late, which bodes well for the playoffs.
--RB LaDainian Tomlinson was on a short leash and was able to get some rest. He did rush for 56 yards and that was enough to win his second NFL rushing crown with 1,474 yards on the year. But the big thing is Tomlinson is fresh for the playoffs.
--TE Antonio Gates got back in the mix, leading the team with six catches for 62 yards. Gates' back is improved going into the playoffs.
--RB Darren Sproles continues to be impressive in spot carries -- although those will probably diminish in the playoffs. But his returns have been solid as well; he had a 61-yard kick return. He had a 13-yard rush, too.
--DT Jamal Williams will practice Wednesday and that is a key. Williams paces the run defense and his absence is noticeable. Williams has battled a balky ankle injury and various other ailments. He was able to rest and skip the final two games his return would be a large boost for the Chargers.
--DE Luis Castillo's ankle has held up well in the past two games. He missed a month of games after undergoing surgery, but is moving well. He had three tackles against the Raiders.