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Tomlinson says he's lost, maybe Chargers aren't as good as they thought

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- LaDainian Tomlinson said his confidence remains strong. He sure didn't look or sound convinced.

"There's a lot of people that's going to try to divide this team, and there's going to be talk about we're not as good as a lot of people think we are," said Tomlinson, mumbling, swallowing hard and staring straight ahead. "That may be the case, but we've got 13 more games to go and so we better find out what's going on real fast."

Tomlinson acknowledged he's lost and mystified by San Diego's 1-2 start after losing to the Green Bay Packers 31-24 on Sunday.

"I think confidence is the last thing to go. (I'm) just a little frustrated, kind of baffled at just the team right now," Tomlinson said.

After being the class of the AFC, the Chargers have lost as many regular season games as they did all of last year.

"This isn't where we expected to be," linebacker Shawne Merriman said. "We expected to be 3-0 right now. It didn't happen, so we keep playing."

Tomlinson, last year's MVP with 1,815 yards rushing and a record 31 touchdowns, again found little room to run with 62 yards on 22 carries.

He reached the end zone once on a 21-yard TD pass from Philip Rivers, but also got into an animated conversation with him on the sidelines in the third quarter that they both downplayed as "competitive talk."

"It appears to be like we're arguing, but it wasn't really arguing, it was competitive talk," Tomlinson said. "It's just things you get into sometimes with guys trying to get on the same page."

Tomlinson was open on a swing route on third-and-5 with 4:26 left in the quarter, but Rivers tried to force a ball that fell incomplete to Antonio Gates, who finished with 11 catches for 113 yards.

The show of frustration was fitting.

San Diego seemingly hasn't been in sync this season, even though coach Norv Turner insists the Chargers will work hard in practice again this week and be OK when they play the Chiefs next Sunday.

"Disheartening? I don't know that I use that word," Turner said. "We have to make sure we don't get frustrated and we don't get in the mind-set that keeps us from taking that next step and moving forward and being a team that gets on a roll, because we certainly can."

Tomlinson has now run for 130 yards on 57 carries this season. He said he can't recognize whether the issue is him or his blockers.

"I don't know if there's a problem yet," Tomlinson said. "I can't put my finger on one particular thing, but obviously, there are some things that's going on that I don't even know. It's just not happening right now."

San Diego did move the ball effectively for three quarters with two touchdown drives of 80 yards and another for 60 yards that gave the Chargers a 21-17 lead heading into the fourth.

Rivers, who finished 27-of-36 for 306 yards and three touchdowns, was particularly sharp. He opened the game by tying a franchise record of 15 straight completions set by Dan Fouts in 1981.

But things came unraveled in the fourth quarter. San Diego gained 82 yards, Rivers went 6-of-11 but was sacked once and intercepted once, Gates made just one catch and Tomlinson had four carries.

Still, the Chargers had the ball - and the lead - on third-and-3 with 2:31 to play. Instead of handing off to Tomlinson, Rivers overthrew Vincent Jackson and the Chargers had to punt.

"You've got be able to finish in the crucial situations and we didn't do that," Rivers said. "The interception is what it is, it's the obvious one, but the third-down conversion that we didn't hit ... You convert that and they may not get it back, and if they do, they have one timeout and a long way to go."

Instead, it took Green Bay two plays to take the lead after Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie got beat by Greg Jennings, who slipped past safety Clinton Hart and easily outran San Diego's pursuit for a 57-yard touchdown that made it 24-21 with 2:03 left.

Rivers then threw his only interception to seal the loss.

"I felt like we were in an offensive rhythm all day," Rivers said. "It's a shame that we lost."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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