Few things are more important than a good defense in the playoffs.
"They always say, when you get to the playoffs, you've got to pack your defense," Casey Hayward said bluntly. "That's the team that'll normally win. It's always good to have a good offense for sure, but you definitely need your defense to come through."
Well, it's a good thing the Chargers are playing as well on defense as at any point in the season.
Just look at Sunday's dominating performance against the Broncos.
The Bolts held Denver to just nine points…and equaled that total on their own. Kyle Emanuel had a scoop-and-score TD in the second quarter and Casey Hayward had the ultra-rare "pick-two" on a 102-yard interception to the house on a two-point conversion attempt.
"That was a tough ball game," Head Coach Anthony Lynn said. "Our guys hung in there. I thought the defense played outstanding, got some critical turnovers, created some points (and got us) good field position."
Still, there's nothing like putting up points on the defensive side of the ball.
As Damion Square explained, they're going to need more of that come the postseason.
"I'm going to be honest with you, in playoffs you turn into two completely different units," he said. "As a defense, you turn into one whole team. As an offense, you turn into one whole team. It's the playoffs. You've got to play. You've got to score points. We've got to think like the offense. You've got to score points. We've got to respond to opportunity, and that's what we're doing. We saw the way the game was going today. We were preaching turnovers before the game, during the game. Somehow a ball got in our hands, made some plays, put the offense in position to score. We got out of here with the win."
Perhaps no one appreciated the defensive performance more than Philip Rivers. The quarterback's been impressed by them all year long, but he noted how they've been even better than usual down the stretch.
"They've had some big-time plays, big-time stops in key moments," he noted. "I think it's just the collective group effort for so many guys. There's not one strength here or there or just a couple of big-time players. It's a collective, group effort that finds a way to get it done. They play well together. They expect to get stops. Every time they go out there, they expect to get a stop. I think just like we expect to score. We know that's not going to happen every time. But I think when you have that expectation that we've set for ourselves, then you can make those kind of plays when you need to."
The defense certainly shares that belief.
"I like how we're playing," said Derwin James. "We're gelling together and we're getting stops we're supposed to get and we're getting the ball. We're getting turnovers, everything. I feel like we're playing good football."
"It's big for us to play like we have," Kyle Emanuel added. "Especially these last two games playing some good opponents and some offenses that can move the ball. Just to use that as momentum going into the playoffs. We talked about not wanting to limp into the playoffs. Defensively, especially with the turnovers and some of the good things that guys are doing, we can use that going forward and just use it in the playoffs."