SAN DIEGO -- With LaDainian Tomlinson perhaps hurt worse than the team is letting on, and Darren Sproles sore from all the running he did in a thrilling wild-card victory, the San Diego Chargers turned their thoughts toward the weather and the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense.
They anticipate a cold, hard-hitting divisional-round game Sunday at Pittsburgh.
"That'll be a factor in how you play the game, and when you get in those games, obviously running the ball and playing defense are critical," San Diego coach Norv Turner said Sunday.
"We did a great job defensively back there," said Turner, whose team got into the playoffs after winning the AFC West with an 8-8 record. "We gave up a lot of yards, but we had a great goal-line stand and we held them out. We had some missed opportunities on offense.
"As I said before the Indianapolis game, I believe we're a lot better team now than we were six weeks ago or eight weeks ago. So that's going to be a part of it. You're in the playoffs, and you're playing a team that's got home-field advantage and is an outstanding team. We're going to have to be at our best."
The Chargers fell to 0-13 in regular-season games in Pittsburgh. However, they have won twice there in the playoffs, in a wild-card game in January 1983 and a shocking upset in the AFC championship game in January 1995, resulting in the only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
Sproles had 328 all-purpose yards against the Colts, including the winning 22-yard touchdown run in overtime.
"We've got him packed in ice back in the training room right now," Turner said jokingly. "We'll let him out on Friday.
"He was absolutely exhausted," Turner added. "If we gave him the ball one more time, he would have done anything he could to get in the end zone. He's an unbelievable guy, and we'll get him a lot of rest this week."
Tomlinson, meanwhile, didn't play after scoring on a 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He looked uncomfortable standing on the sideline, appearing to have a hard time standing straight up.
Asked about his short-term health, Tomlinson said: "I'm worried about my health. I'm very concerned."
The Chargers continue to say Tomlinson has a strained groin. Reports surfaced Saturday that Tomlinson has a detached tendon.
"It's a strained groin. That's what our medical report is," Turner said.
"I don't think it's any worse, but it isn't any better," Turner added. "They said he was pretty sore around that area, probably from compensating for the injury. It was obvious once he got going, to him and to us, that he would not be able to play the way he'd like to. At halftime, they worked on him, tried to get him to where he could go in the second half. But it just wasn't going to happen."
A glum Tomlinson didn't clarify the nature of his injury after the win over the Colts.
"It's a medical issue," he said. "That's all I'll say about it. I'm not a doctor, and I'm not going to stand up here and act like one."
Asked if he was advised to have surgery, he said: "I can't answer that."
Is it realistic to think Tomlinson will get better in a week?
"To be honest with you, I don't know," Turner said. "That sounds like the questions I was asking about two hours ago, you know, how much better can he get? Is time the factor? If he didn't play this week, would it be better if we were fortunate enough to win, would it be better in two weeks, where it would give him a realistic chance to be at his best?
"It's not fair to him," Turner added. "He wanted to go. Anyone that questions his mental toughness, his physical toughness, his competitiveness from a year ago, he's one of the great competitors I've been around. We've got to make the right decision, and I think L.T. wants to make the right decision, too, so that's why we'll evaluate as the week goes on."
Tomlinson missed most of last season's AFC Championship Game with a sprained ligament in his left knee and stood on the sidelines huddled in a parka, wearing his helmet with a tinted visor. Some people criticized Tomlinson's toughness then, but the Chargers themselves had provided an optimistic update on his injury, announcing in the press box that the running back had a "sore knee" and that he "can return."
Afterward, Tomlinson said: "It's obvious that I couldn't play. If I could have played, I would have been in there."
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith didn't return calls seeking comment on Tomlinson's injury.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press