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Chargers face tall task of snapping out of five-game funk

SAN DIEGO -- The Chargers have lost five consecutive games, their worst streak since going 0-5 to open the 2003 season. Back then, running back LaDainian Tomlinson and quarterback Drew Brees were in their third NFL seasons, and coach Marty Schottenheimer benched Brees for five games.

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San Diego's latest setback was a 31-20 loss at Chicago on Sunday in which Philip Rivers threw two more interceptions and Ryan Mathews had another costly fumble. The losing streak has erased the fastest start in Norv Turner's five seasons as coach and dropped the Chargers (4-6) into last in the AFC West, two games behind the Oakland Raiders with six to play.

The Chargers have had late-season rallies under Turner to reach the playoffs, but they stumbled last December and missed the postseason. This season could hinge on Sunday's home game against Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos, who have won three in a row to jump into second place in the division.

Rivers was asked Monday if the team's mentality this week in practice will be that the season is on the line.

"It's hard to deny that in a lot of ways," said Rivers, who has thrown a league-leading and career-high 17 interceptions. "Is the season over if not? No. Who knows what can happen. But certainly we know how big this game is, just how we knew how big Chicago was and how we knew how big Oakland was and how big Green Bay was. They're all huge.

"I hope guys don't prepare harder this week and play harder this week because that means we've been shorting ourselves the last five. But I do think from a mentality, we know we've got to find a way to win this game. That's been the last mentality the last few weeks as well. If there's such a thing as digging any deeper, certainly we all need to do that."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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