QB Philip Rivers (Stephen Dunn/Getty)
Quarterback Philip Rivers admits he does peek at the scoreboard as the Chargers try to pull even with the AFC West-leading Broncos. The Chargers, who have lost three of their past four games, trail the Broncos by two games with six to play.
Winning the division is virtually the only way the Chargers can reach the playoffs for the third time in four years.
"Oh, sure," Philip Rivers said about tracking the Broncos. "But obviously it doesn't matter what they do if we don't win.
"Certainly you keep up with it, but understanding if we don't take care of our own business, it doesn't matter."
The Chargers start their critical three-game home swing Sunday night by facing the Colts. It's the same Colts team the Chargers have defeated three straight times, including in last season's playoffs.
Rivers knows he needs to be on his game when matching scoring drives with the Colts' Peyton Manning. Rivers can't afford another outing in which he throws two interceptions and loses a fumble for a safety, as happened Sunday at Pittsburgh.
The Chargers had only two second-half possessions against the Steelers, which magnified Rivers' errors.
"Certainly when you look at the way that game went, we didn't have many opportunities, but we had enough," said Rivers, who was 15-for-26 for 159 yards. "If we had made the best of them and managed the opportunities we had instead of making those negative plays, certainly the defense put us in a position to win the game."
True. The defense held the Steelers without a touchdown, but that wasn't enough with the Chargers offense being careless with the football.
--QB Philip Rivers had one of his worst days as a starter in Pittsburgh, and the Chargers hope that is because of the Steelers' tough defense. Rivers held the ball too long in his end zone when he was sacked and fumbled. And his interception just before the half in the red zone was something he can't do with points being at such a premium in a game like that. The Chargers need Rivers to rebound big time Sunday night, as they figure to be in a shootout with the Colts.
--RB LaDainian Tomlinson is growing more frustrated as he sees the season slipping away and the Chargers still unable to establish a consistent running game. Tomlinson averaged only 3.2 yards in Pittsburgh and was held under 100 yards for the eighth time in 10 games this season. Tomlinson is healthy; the same can't be said for the Chargers' running attack. Tomlinson did add a team-high 40 receiving yards on three catches.
--RB Darren Sproles was an afterthought in an offense that had only two second-half possessions. Sproles had one carry for 0 yards. He had one kickoff return for 12 yards and no punt returns.
--FB Mike Tolbert got to touch the ball twice on two rushes but gained only 4 yards. His blocking hasn't been what the Chargers were used to -- i.e. Lorenzo Neal -- and that is part of the running game's problems.
--TE Antonio Gates wasn't used much in Pittsburgh, which is surprising with QB Philip Rivers needing a safety value underneath while facing the Steelers' tenacious pass rush. Gates had two catches for 10 yards -- strange considering the weather and the opponent.
--WR Vincent Jackson got hit by dropitis, but he did catch two balls for 25 yards.
--WR Chris Chambers is slowly getting back into the mix, but it wasn't expected to be this slow. An ankle sprain slowed Chambers earlier in the year; two weeks ago he had zero catches. On Sunday, he had only three catches for 21 yards. The Chargers need a productive Chambers down the stretch.
--WR Buster Davis claims his nagging injuries are behind him, and he went through an entire week of practice last week. But he again was a healthy inactive Sunday, as he has fallen off the coaches' radars.
--WR Malcolm Floyd continues to be in the mix after filling in so well when Chris Chambers was out. Floyd led the wideouts with 29 receiving yards on two catches.
--DE Jacques Cesaire had one of the better games of his career, recording two sacks and being active all over the field. Cesaire, though, took a helmet to the knee and could be limited this week in practice. He said he would play Sunday.
--OLB Jyles Tucker got his first sack in over a month as the Chargers took advantage of QB Ben Roethlisberger's lack of mobility. Tucker is getting his burst back after a hamstring injury earlier in the year.
--CB Quentin Jammer had another solid game, as he led all players with 12 tackles and two passes defensed. But as was the case in the loss to the Saints, severe cramps forced him to the sideline down the stretch.
--FS Eric Weddle, who collected 11 tackles, drew praise from coach Norv Turner. Weddle seems to be improving his angles and wrapping up better than he did earlier in the season.
--ILB Stephen Cooper showed well with 10 tackles and a half-sack. But Cooper, as did some other Chargers, had trouble bringing down a banged-up Willie Parker, who rushed for 115 yards. Cooper hyperextended his elbow, but he finished the game.
--CB Antonio Cromartie started for the first time in two games, as his nagging hip injury is finally getting better. Cromartie had four tackles but no passes defensed.
--ILB Brandon Siler had only one tackle, but it was a big one, which could earn him some more playing time. He stuffed Mewelde Moore at the Chargers goal line for a 2-yard loss on a fourth down.
--K Nate Kaeding has one of the best percentages in the league, but his reputation of having trouble on clutch kicks was brought up again as he missed from 42 yards in the third quarter. He did convert a 22-yarder in the fourth quarter.
--P Mike Scifres continues his dynamite season by averaging 43.5 net yards on two attempts. He also flipped the field-position battle when he boomed a 75-yard free kick after the Chargers had given up a safety.