Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) is tackled by San Diego Chargers linebacker Bront Bird (97) during the second half at Qualcomm Stadium. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Photo)
The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - INSIDE SLANT
Before the season became a complete loss, the San Diego Chargers played their most complete game.
That was the take-away from Sunday's 37-14 thrashing of the New York Giants. The Chargers' offense had a rhythm, the defense had a dose of nasty and the special teams were solid.
All in all, it was among the team's best games -- even though it likely came a little late.
The Chargers (6-7) remain in the race for the AFC's final wild-card berth, a game behind the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins. The Chargers' chances are still dicey, but at least they have one and if they would have lost on Sunday, that notion would have taken a serious hit.
"The passion of our football team was there and that was the great thing about it," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. "It was an outstanding team effort."
The only trouble the Chargers had a shorter window to enjoy it. It's hard to do too many cartwheels when a trip to Denver is on-deck, especially with game day being Thursday instead of Sunday.
So the Chargers embrace the win -- only their second in six games -- and then get ready to try and do the unlikely in winning at Denver on a short week.
"It's the same shortness for them, too," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "But there is a challenge."
Rivers and his team playing better than Eli Manning and the Giants is one thing.
Beating Manning's older brother, Peyton, at Denver is another.
But the Chargers can't be picky. They have their nose pressed against the playoff glass, and at least that's better than having the Giants' fate, just playing out the string over the final three games.
The Chargers remain alive, which beats the alternative. And they can thank having a solid effort against the Giants for their status as the season enters its stretch run.
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - NOTES, QUOTES
-- Wide receiver Keenan Allen caught his 61st pass of the season on Sunday, which sets the rookie receiving mark for the Chargers. LaDainian Tomlinson set the previous standard of 59 in 2001. Allen, a third-round pick, is quick to distribute the reasons for his success. "It's just the confidence that I have and that they guys and coaches give me throughout practice," Allen said. "You make those plays in practice and then you make them in the game and it's just like practice. It's never anything new.
-- Outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, in about six months, returned from a torn ACL. Ingram had a hand in on a tackle and also helped force a fumble in his limited role. "It's just a blessing," Ingram said about returning. "It's a blessing to be back and a blessing to go out and get a victory.
-- Much of the talk from Sunday's game was about the 5-foot-8 Danny Woodhead winning against two taller Giants defensive back in what was basically a tip drill on a fade route. That the Chargers running back came up with the ball surprised many, but not his quarterback, Philip Rivers. "I had just been thinking with don't have Danario (Alexander) or Malcom (Floyd) to throw it up to, so I think Danny is the next best option," Rivers joked. The pass was good for 39 yards.