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Bolts Embracing Magnitude of the Moment

The Los Angeles Chargers aren't even bothering to downplay the significance of Saturday night's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Philip Rivers wouldn't say it's the most important game they've played all season, believing that would diminish the significance of previous matchups.

However, there is no denying the implications of the key AFC West showdown between the two teams tied atop the division at 7-6.

"(We have to) keep the focus we've had, and keep doing things with the one game at a time approach, but also that it doesn't get much better (than this)," he said. "We're going to Kansas City on a Saturday night in December, playing for the division lead with three weeks to play. I think it's good to acknowledge that, but make sure that we don't get too caught up in the hype. It can turn the other way in a hurry."

While the winner won't clinch, it certainly gives them a leg up.

"It is, but it isn't (the end all be all)," he said. "It certainly gives you a heck of a lot better chance of winning it, if you win this game. But if you win this game, it's not over yet. It's a big game. I think it's important to know what's at stake, which I think we all do. But at the same time, just keep the same approach we've had."

That can sometimes be easier said than done, but not for these Bolts.

After all, they've basically been playing elimination games since October after an 0-4 start put them behind the eight ball.

"Every week has been a playoff game for us," echoed Head Coach Anthony Lynn. "We have to win out. Even if we're fortunate enough to win this game on Saturday, we still have to win out to keep our spot. So, it's a similar situation for us that we've been in all year long."

Now the Bolts control their own destiny as they try to become only the second team in NFL history to make the postseason after going winless over the first quarter of the season. Yet as Rivers explained, the team has managed to stay loose in their quest to right the ship.  While other teams get tight in high pressure situations, the Chargers have maintained a loose environment which has been key to their turnaround.

"While we have been (in must-win games for a while), it hasn't caused us to be tight or go, 'Let's not mess up.' We've been playing free, but at the same time very focused, if that makes any sense. We knew we were in a position where we had no more wiggle room. We're still there, obviously. This is a huge game, it goes without saying, for both teams. While it doesn't decide anything final, it gives you a heck of a better chance to come out on top."

So, it really doesn't get much better than this.

While there is always a special intensity whenever bitter rivals like the Chargers and Chiefs square off, with so much on the line, it's clear the game is more than your run-of-the-mill clash between the two teams.

"It's exciting," Lynn said. "It's what you work for. In the off-season, when you're running those 200s and 300s and 150s in the heat of summer. This is what you envision…We expected to be here in December playing meaningful football. We earned the right to be in this game, and we're looking forward to it."

It's a message universally echoed in the locker room.

"From the start we set a goal, and our first goal was to win the AFC West," Desmond King said. "From there, we want to win a championship.  That's always the goal in the back of our head.  So once our season took off at 0-4, we kind of stuck to that first goal, win the AFC West, because our whole season was still ahead of us.  We never looked back; just kept going forward.  That's where I think the maturity level kind of kicked in for our team.  You're just always accountable for yourself and being responsible as well."

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