Takeo Spikes #51 of the San Diego Chargers looks on from the sidelines against the Seattle Seahawks during their NFL preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California on August 11, 2011.
Chargers linebacker Takeo Spikes keeps a special quote for times like these.
His right arm leaning comfortably over the top of his locker, the 14-year veteran paused after Friday's practice, stared toward the ceiling, and after seconds of searching aloud for the right wording, located the sentence that led him through the tough times in his career.
"When people look at adversity and setbacks," Spikes, 34, said, "I look at it as an opportunity for a comeback."
The underdog Chargers, losers of their past two games, both largely decided on a late fourth-quarter swing, host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium. The visitor, a defending Super Bowl champion on a 13-game winning streak, will be met at 1:15 p.m. under the bulk of a Pacific storm with a 100 percent chance of rain, according to the National Weather Service.
Maybe Spikes didn't expect New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis to intercept a tipped pass, interrupting a likely scoring drive. Maybe he didn't forsee a botched snap, spoilng a game-winning field goal attempt in the final minute against the Kansas City Chiefs.
But this difficult stretch, he says, was as much a lock to forecast.
"You've just got to keep playing," Spikes said. "Look at the reality of it. The reality is we're still tied for first in the West. That's our No. 1 goal. And it's still early ... (Bleep) happens. (Bleep) happens in life. To me, the most beautiful thing about going through stuff is you appreciate it in the end more when you do come together and you do get out of that rut.
"All the times and all the memories and accomplishments I’ve had, it isn’t because of the money or the contract I've had. it was the rough times or rough patches I went through ... In the end, when we pulled out or when I pulled out of the rut I was going through, it was all worth it. I wouldn't even dare change it because it makes you the person you are."
Perspective, not panic, is the shared remedy among Chargers veterans.
Quarterback Philip Rivers, whose rut has been as deep as any, has embraced the first-place division deadlock with the Chiefs and Oakland Raiders.
It was his pass, thrown slightly behind wide receiver Vincent Jackson, that deflected into Revis' hands. It was his left ring finger that jammed and swelled while the snapped ball dropped perilously to the ground.
Adversity will "test you, as a person, as a man," Rivers said.
"You battle through it," he said. "The effort, the practice, the preparation— all that has been there. We're sitting here at 4-3. I think it's the way we've lost the last few weeks that has made it a challenge, emotionally.
"But sitting here at with nine games to go in a three-team lock in the division, yeah, we wished we won the last two. And certainly, we could have. But we didn't. We aren't sitting here in Week 16, saying, 'It got away from us.' We're here. We're in the midst of it. It's a battle. We're fighting it. We'll find out about us over the course of the next nine weeks."
Setback or comeback.
This team has yet to be defined.