SAN DIEGO — Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers saved their season and got some separation in the wild-card race with a thrilling comeback victory at Baltimore.
While moving into the AFC's No. 5 playoff spot, the playoff push only gets tougher for the Chargers (8-4).
Up next is a home game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (9-3), who will practice in San Diego this week after losing at Green Bay on Sunday.
After that is a home game against AFC West-leading Denver and road games against San Francisco and Kansas City.
Every game will have playoff implications.
"As packed as everyone is, as close as our division is, and the AFC North is, there's a lot of teams that you could say are in a playoff mode," outside linebacker Jarret Johnson said Monday. "I don't know if that's what I need to be saying, but that's reality."
San Diego trails the Broncos by one game.
The Chargers reached the playoffs last year by winning their final four games and getting help from Baltimore and Miami, which each lost their final two games.
This December will be tougher for the Chargers than last December.
"It's what it's all about. You want to be good in this league, you've got to beat the best," Johnson said. "We've got a tough road ahead of us, but we're not worried about the four games, we're worried about one game, the Patriots. That's all we can control right now."
The Patriots and Brady "are an extremely hard team to play against, especially defensively, the way they attack weakness and his ability to control a game is unbelievable," Johnson said. "It's going to be fun. It's going to be on a big stage. It's going to be a challenge."
And the Chargers are happy they have Rivers.
Down by 10 points with just more than six minutes to go, the Chargers rallied behind Rivers to beat the Ravens 34-33 on Sunday and extend their winning streak to three games.
Rivers threw for 383 yards and three touchdowns, including the winning 1-yarder to Eddie Royal with 38 seconds left.
"It was a crazy game, as usual. I'm just thankful we have Philip as our quarterback," wideout Malcom Floyd said. "He did a great job of orchestrating a great drive and we got a win. It was a great plane ride home, too, unlike the Miami game."
The Chargers' last loss was a 37-0 stinker at Miami on Nov. 2.
Johnson and Floyd said the win at Baltimore boosted the Chargers' confidence.
"When you have a quarterback like we have, we've got a chance every week, and he was incredible yesterday," Johnson said.
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