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The underdog Chargers traveled over 2,000 miles to an ear-splitting dome and served the defending conference champions the drubbing of the decade.
Given the context, forgive quarterback Philip Rivers for not hiding his smile when commenting on the topic of outside perception.
“Four weeks ago,” Rivers said, “we were pathetic.”
Detached from the tether of their latest slow start, the Chargers herded Peyton Manning and the Colts on Sunday night like no team has done before, branding the team with its worst home loss since 1997 in a 36-14 shellacking.
Linebacker Kevin Burnett and safety Eric Weddle returned two of Manning's four interceptions for touchdowns in the team's fourth straight win, sure to send former detractors off stage thinking up a different tune.
After railroading through what was considered the greatest remaining roadblock on their schedule, the Chargers seem destined to claim their fifth consecutive divisional crown and sixth playoff appearance in seven years.
But Rivers says if the team, which is one game back of the first-place Chiefs in the AFC West and has never lost in December with Rivers as its starting quarterback, didn't listen to perception before, it isn't about to start now.
“That's one thing we've never done is get caught up in what everyone thinks on the outside,” Rivers said. “We've just got to stay focused on the 'win one game at a time.' I know it sounds like it gets overused, but we've really bought into it, and we're going to keep that as our focus as we move forward.”
Running back Mike Tolbert set the game's tone by bulling through the Colts 26 times for 103 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown — the first and only for an offense that settled for four field goals in the red zone and five overall.
Thanks to sound special teams and a swarming defense that registered five takeaways and limited the Colts to only 24 rushing yards, the scoring was enough for the Chargers (6-5) to earn their first winning record of the season.
Before the game, the Colts were unbeaten this season at Lucas Oil Stadium. Several minutes prior to the end, the home fans had already relinquished to the parking lot in droves.
Nothing pathetic about that.