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Chargers Must Avoid Halloween Hangover

Chargers can steal a page from Kansas City

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Kansas City Chiefs safety Paul Oliver #27 celebrates with Chiefs fans after beating the San Diego Chargers in overtime on October 31, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs defeated the Chargers 23-20.

    The dandruff from Monday night's head scratcher in Kansas City still fluttered Tuesday back at the San Diego Chargers complex.

    After his team baffled a nation, blew a game and boarded a plane that touched down at about 4 a.m., coach Norv Turner stood at the media podium in the afternoon-after, his task now to avoid the Halloween hangover his 4-3 team cannot afford.

    On the players' off-day, Turner relived how his Pro Bowl left tackle committed six penalties, his touted offense squandered one red zone opportunity after the next, and his Pro Bowl quarterback turned the ball over three times, the last of which coming on a game-swinging botched snap.

    In the thick of it all, he was asked about the team's mentality moving forward. For this answer, the Bolts should turn back to Kansas City.

    Before the Chargers' 23-20 overtime loss, Chiefs coach Todd Haley said in a usually formulaic ESPN field interview that his team did not need to chase greatness to defeat the Chargers. If his players could merely be good, he said, that would be plenty.

    Simple enough: Don't overextend yourself. Play clean football.

    Sure sounds like what the mistake-riddled Chargers need to get through the most delicate and difficult part of their schedule, hosting the undefeated Green Bay Packers on Sunday in a short week and the rival Oakland Raiders the following Thursday in an even shorter one.

    Three teams. Eleven days.

    "There's no question," Turner said, "the combination of the way the game went at the end and then the short week, everyone — coaches, players, everyone involved — is going to have to do a great job of getting ready for this game ...

    "(Mentality is) one of the things we talk about as a staff. That's one of the things we've worked hard at doing on every turn. Every week we work hard to create a new theme, a new situation, a new mindset."

    A modest proposal for this week's: Don't do too much.

    The Chargers have tackle Marcus McNeill psyching himself out of a matchup with Tamba Hali, whom he's faced for years. Quarterback Philip Rivers is forcing the ball into neighborhoods it has no business of being. Running back Ryan Mathews, improved in pass protection, is getting too aggressive against a pass rusher, whiffing a cut block and allowing a sack.

    Against the Denver Broncos at the rocking Mile High Stadium, these same Chargers weren't charged with a single penalty. After the bye, in these past two road games, they have committed 25 of them.

    Stop it. Take a breath. Go back to the basics, even if that means stealing a page from a division rival.

    Greatness comes later.

    Quit chasing your end-of-season potential. Just be good now.