WR Chris Chambers (Doug Pensinger/Getty)
The Chargers went far to be so close. Close to winning two games -- instead of none -- on their 11,000-mile jaunt in the name of the NFL. Now licking their road wounds after losses to the Saints and Bills, they head into their bye week and are glad to be home. And in the AFC West.
By residing in one of the NFL's most tepid division, the 3-5 Chargers' season isn't the wreck it could be. San Diego could pull within one game of the lead if Denver loses while the Chargers rest on Sunday.
But that is also taking the most optimistic of views about a fading team. The truth is the Chargers' season isn't going to get better until the pass defense -- ranked last in the NFL -- improves.
Once again, the offense played well Sunday against the Saints.
Once again, the pass defense cost the team the game, this time torched by Drew Brees.
The Chargers have no sacks in their last two contests, one in their past three.
"I thought we came close early to getting pressure on Drew," coach Norv Turner said. "We got our hands on him a couple times and weren't able to get him down. A guy like him, if you can't get pressure, he's going to find open guys."
True, to an extent.
Any kind of NFL quarterback -- not necessarily one of Brees' caliber -- can move the ball when not pressured. Put a quarterback in a passing drill and he seldom misses -- welcome to the Chargers pass defense, circa 2008.
Brees threw for 339 yards and three scores. And it was as predictable as the light mist arriving before kickoff in London.
So the Chargers, at least, know what ails them. Now, if only it were so easy to do something about it.
"We have some time, and we need to come up with some things in terms of helping our guys physically rush the passer and schematically find a way to put pressure on the quarterback," Turner said.
The Chargers have their bye week to discover how -- and if -- they can do it.
--DE Luis Castillo thought that people new to the NFL got their money's worth in Sunday's exciting game.
"I thought it was what the fans here wanted to see," Castillo said. "I thought they wanted a high-scoring game. I thought they wanted to see the ball being thrown. I thought they wanted to see amazing athletes making amazing plays, and that's what they got."
Castillo had few, though. He finished with two tackles and no sacks.
--RB LaDainian Tomlinson gained a season-high 170 combined yards, including 105 on the ground.
"I felt going into this game this was the healthiest I've been since I hurt my toe," Tomlinson said. "I said earlier in the week that I didn't feel like my toe was going to be a factor. I'm pretty much back healthy. I felt like I was running well (Sunday)."
--FS Eric Weddle nearly had a memorable interception. Instead, he committed a regrettable penalty. Weddle thought he had made a fourth-quarter interception, with the Chargers down by seven points. He flopped around, did a dance and was nailed with a 15-yard penalty. The play was reviewed and overturned; the penalty, not so.
"I thought I had it. I had my hand underneath it," Weddle said. "I guess it wasn't a catch, so no play."
--Coach Norv Turner knows where the Chargers can look if needing inspiration: QB Philip Rivers.
"(His) greatest strength to me is he's a great competitor," Turner said. "(The) mental toughness he has is an example for our entire team."
--The Chargers' 14 penalties for 134 yards were their high on both accounts since Nov. 15, 1998.
--The Chargers have lost three of their last four road games, as well as three of their last four overall.
--CB Quentin Jammer suffered severe cramps in his hamstring during the game. The ailment was not believed to be serious.
--WR Chris Chambers contributed in his return to the lineup after missing two games. He finished with five catches for 47 yards.
--WR Buster Davis continues to be out with a groin injury. The team hopes he can go after the bye.
--OLB Jyles Tucker (two tackles) wasn't a factor in his first game back after missing three with a hamstring injury. Tucker, who was Shawne Merriman's backup, was given a contract extension before the year.
--DE Igor Olshansky starts the second half of his contract year looking to boost his stock. To date, the Chargers haven't seemed interested in bringing him back. He had zero tackles Sunday.
--FB Jacob Hester continues to fight for playing time. The Chargers surrendered a second-round pick in 2009 to move up and draft Hester in last year's third round.
--CB Cletis Gordon got nailed with a questionable pass-interference call in the end zone late in Sunday's game while subbing for Quentin Jammer.