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Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Norv's secret to success in December

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

IRVING, Texas -- The NFC East blog had an opportunity to check in with Chargers coach Norv Turner today via conference call and we discussed several topics. I wanted to talk to him about being a finalist for the Cowboys' head-coaching position following the '06 season, but he wanted to stay away from that. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had a choice to make at that point: Turner's history with quarterbacks or Wade Phillips' history with the 3-4 defense. Obviously, we know what happened next.

I think a lot of Cowboys fans would agree that Jones made the wrong choice -- especially given Turner's record in December (10-0) and in the playoffs (4-2). Phillips is 3-6 in December and 0-1 in the playoffs. I remember Turner telling me about a year ago that he came close to pulling his name from consideration from the Cowboys' coaching search, but a family member talked him into continuing in the process.

Of course, Turner's loss was the Chargers' gain. He has helped make Philip Rivers one of the best quarterbacks in the league and his teams perform their best at the most critical times of the season. When I pressed Turner for details today, he said he tried to tweak things with his practice schedule and certain drills in order to keep his team focused. It was suggested by another reporter that Turner's teams seem to have a swagger down the stretch.

“Our team has that anyway, because we do have a lot of good players,” Turner said. “There is a sense of confidence. I think one of the things, too, obviously to win games like that in December, like any other time of year, you have to win close games and you have to win games in the fourth quarter. We’ve been able to do that.”