For the fourth time this season, they were rebounding from a loss that came in the game's final 24 seconds. The latest was a 23-20 defeat to the visiting Colts on a last-second field goal.
"We played a very good football team, a playoff-caliber football team, and the game came down to the last play," coach Norv Turner said.
It represented the Chargers' fourth loss in five games and sunk their record to 4-7. That said, they remain two games off the AFC West lead, as the Raiders upset the first-place Broncos.
"It's not tiresome to hear someone say we are still in it," Turner said of the team's plight with five games remaining. "But we have to do our part.
"Again, we're that close, and that is not enough."
The Chargers are running out of time. They had hoped the Sunday night game would be a springboard to sweeping a three-game home stand. Instead they must try to bounce back Sunday against the improved Falcons, and then tangle with the Raiders.
With a ray of hope still out there, the Chargers are trying to put Sunday's loss behind them quickly.
"Our guys are a confident group, I think, in terms of preparation," Turner said. "It has been outstanding -- look at the performance, the way the guys play.
"What we have to do obviously is find a way to finish. We're that close, and we just have to believe we can make it go our way."
--CB Quentin Jammer was in the middle of Sunday's biggest play, when Colts QB Peyton Manning clicked with WR Marvin Harrison for 14 yards and a first down to set up Adam Vinatieri's winning field goal. "He threw the damn ball behind him," Jammer said of Manning's fourth-down toss off the play-action. "I was right on top of (Harrison) until I got hit by the ref." Jammer was bumped just enough that he was late getting to Harrison.
"I didn't see him," Jammer said of the official. "When you're focusing on your man, when you play man, you don't see the ref. They need to get his (rear) up out of there. They need to do something because you see that (stuff) happen a lot where the referee comes down and somebody hits him."
Jammer was convinced it was no accident the route had him smacking into an unexpected obstacle.
"They are just running picks off the referee," Jammer said. "It's a called play, and it's bull."
--Rookie FB Jacob Hester got his most extensive playing time of the season with starter Mike Tolbert out with a shoulder injury in the second half. Hester, a third-round pick, caught three passes for a touchdown and 16 yards. "I wish it could have been in different circumstances," Hester said of his fourth-quarter, 1-yard scoring catch. "It gave us some good momentum, but in the end it just wasn't enough."
Coach Norv Turner liked what he saw.
"Jacob is a good football player, and he is going to get his opportunity to play this week," Turner said.
--When Jammer made an interception in the first quarter off an underthrown Manning pass, it represented the Chargers' first takeaway in 42 days. Not since Oct. 12 had the Chargers picked off a pass or recovered a fumble. And it was Jammer who had the last interception. Jammer has two interceptions, which leaves him tied with Antonio Cromartie for the team lead. The Chargers led the league with 30 interceptions last year, but they have only seven with five games remaining this year.
--RB LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 84 yards on 21 carries. Tomlinson secured the No. 14 spot on the NFL's all-time rushing list, passing John Riggins at 11,352. Next up for Tomlinson, who has 11,420 yards, is the Cardinals' Edgerrin James at 11,992. James is the only remaining active player ahead of Tomlinson.
--WR Chris Chambers had a season-high six catches for 61 yards. It was his second-best receiving day of the season.
--DE Luis Castillo (groin) has a chance to play this week after missing a game.
--CB Cletis Gordon (knee) could return this week after missing the past two games.
--DT Jamal Williams is coming off his best game of the season, as he had 10 tackles and a sack.
--FB Mike Tolbert (shoulder) is likely down this week.
--LT Marcus McNeill suffered a hip injury Sunday night, but he should practice and play this week.