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Monday, November 26, 2007
Philip Rivers doesn't deny telling booing Chargers fans to shut up

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Philip Rivers didn't deny that he told booing fans to shut up early in Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Rivers had just completed an eight-yard pass on third down to Legedu Naanee, which was a yard short of a first down on San Diego's first offensive series. The fans at Qualcomm Stadium booed for the second straight play; the first time was when LaDainian Tomlinson was stuffed for no gain on second down.

Video replays appeared to show Rivers telling the fans to shut up. The Chargers would go on to beat the Ravens 32-14 to take a one-game lead over Denver in the AFC West.

Rivers said he understands why the fans were steamed.

"Again, it's an emotional game. To be honest with you, I love the fans," Rivers said with a laugh on Monday. "I mean, I really do. It was early in the game, it was the first series, you're coming off a completion. and it wasn't necessarily for me, it was kind of like for our team, like saying, 'Hey, relax a little bit.'

"But again, we understand some of their frustrations in a sense that we were 5-5 and expectations were so high. Again, it was nothing more than that. Shoot, we've all told our sibling or brother to shut up before and then you love them five minutes later, so I hope that's the case."

As the game unfolded, the Chargers (6-5) played the way everyone anticipated they would this year. Rivers threw three touchdown passes, including two to All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates, and went interception-free for just the third time this season. LaDainian Tomlinson had a quietly efficient game and became the 23rd player in NFL history to rush for more than 10,000 yards, and the defense regained its aggressiveness.

Still, the Chargers know it was just one game. They've been wildly inconsistent in Norv Turner's first season as head coach. They've been downright brutal on the road, going 1-4, and they'll play three of their last five games away from Qualcomm.

Up first is a visit to division rival Kansas City. The Chiefs beat the Chargers 30-16 on Sept. 30 by rallying for 24 straight points. Rivers had two interceptions and a fumble, which rookie Tyron Brackenridge returned 50 yards for a score.

Playing better against the Ravens started with Rivers taking care of the ball. Coming in, he led the NFL with 17 turnovers.

"You don't turn it over, you throw completions, usually on offense you keep moving the ball and you give yourselves a chance," Rivers said. "Our defense created some turnovers and played well. We were able to get a lead, then slam the door."

Rivers said there was no surprise in the locker room that the defending AFC West champion Chargers could play that way.

"We just hadn't done it yet," he said. "So I think there are still a lot of things we can clean up and a lot of ways we can get better. We've got to make sure we keep getting better and we keep cleaning little things up so we can get on a roll because there's no room for error at this point."

San Diego's 6-5 record is the weakest of any division leader.

"The plan going ahead is that we've got to win every game, all five games, and just roll into the playoffs," said Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick, who returned after missing nearly five full games with a foot injury. "I think that's got to be the mentality. We can't say, 'Well, we've got to win three out five,' because then we're going to lose two games. So you've got to say, 'We want to win all five.' It's like a must-win five games. Then that'll give us, what, 11 wins? Shoot, that's a pretty good season, isn't it?"

Tomlinson, meanwhile, has 10,048 career rushing yards and tied boyhood idol Emmitt Smith as the fourth-fastest to crack the 10,000-yard mark, in his 106th game.

It was another milestone for the reigning NFL MVP, who set league records last year with 31 touchdowns and 186 points. Now in his seventh season, Tomlinson said he's backed off setting numbers-oriented goals -- such as chasing Smith's career record of 18,355 yards -- and is more concerned with winning.

"Now you want to feel the feeling of winning the championship and having something that you can always say, 'We did it as a team,' " said Tomlinson, who is 0-2 in the playoffs. "Every year when the Super Bowl time comes, you see all the teams that have won the Super Bowl and you see the stories on them and you want to be a part of that one day, where it would never ever go away in history."