Saturday, January 4, 2014
Grizzled vets lead Chargers into postseason
By Eric D. Williams
CINCINNATI -- Although it’s been four years since the San Diego Chargers have been in the playoffs, they do have some guys who have been here before.
Six players on San Diego’s roster were with the team when the Chargers advanced to the playoffs in 2009 -- Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Nick Hardwick, Eric Weddle, Jeromey Clary, and Mike Scifres.
"It’s kind of like we are back,” Rivers said. “We are in it. We are alive. We have a chance. It’s special. Opportunity is just the first step. We are not in here high-fiving like it’s a destination. Everybody is 0-0 and we have a chance just like everyone else.”
Another 10 players on San Diego’s roster have played in the postseason for other teams. So the Chargers will count on veterans like Rivers and Weddle to explain to the younger players who have not performed in the postseason how to get ready for the team’s big game on Sunday here in Cincinnati.
On the other sideline, the Bengals have 37 players who were in the postseason for Cincinnati last season.
“There’s nothing like the playoffs,” Weddle said. “The atmosphere, the speed of the game, how intense (it is) and how vital each play is. The possessions shrink down.
“You’re going good-on-good, so instead of 12 possessions a game, you’re looking at nine, eight, sometimes. Every play matters. It’s exciting. You live for it.”
Rivers and Weddle spent this week explaining to younger players like running back Ryan Mathews the higher intensity level that comes with NFL playoff games.
“I’ve heard it’s a lot faster, with the intensity and the crowd,” Mathews said. “I heard everything is just amped up, tenfold.”
Chargers rookie receiver Keenan Allen said the biggest game he’s played in up to this point was the 2011 Holiday Bowl for Cal, a 21-10 loss to Texas. But Allen acknowledges a college bowl game does not rival NFL playoff football.
“I had a bowl game my sophomore year in college, but I don’t think it will be as intense as a playoff game in the NFL,” he said. “I expect a fast game, a lot of competition out there. And hopefully we do a good job.”
And what will be your approach, Keenan?
“Just play football,” Allen said. “That’s what it comes down to every week -- just a different team, different uniform.”