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Tolbert, Chargers finishing strong

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Posted Dec. 21, 2011 @ 10:55 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

Nobody is too surprised the Chargers offense is playing well late in the season. With talent all across the field, the unit has the ability to score on anybody, as proven by the 34 points they posted on the vaunted Ravens defense in Week 15. The surprise is the fact that it took the team until December to start clicking offensively.

San Diego is averaging 36.3 points in its three December games so far, a huge rise from the 22.5 points per game it averaged from September through November. It is no coincidence the team is also 3-0 this month, compared to 4-7 prior to that. In an interview with PFW, RB Mike Tolbert said that he and his teammates have noticed a difference in their play in recent weeks and are seeing the results on the scoreboard.

"You can definitely feel when you're in rhythm, like we are now," Tolbert said. "You can tell the difference. But right now we're feeling good about where our offense is and the possibilities that we have, so we're definitely going to try and keep it rolling."

There are several reasons the offense is playing better, according to Tolbert.

"We've taken care of the ball, being really smart, really cautious with the ball," Tolbert said. "We shored up our offense, got healthy, got some people back, so you know, we're protecting (QB) Philip (Rivers) real well."

Credit must go to Tolbert, too. As the team's short-yardage back, it is his job to move the chains and keep the offense on the field. Red-zone woes were a main reason the Chargers struggled to score early in the season, but in December, Tolbert has scored three touchdowns from inside the opponents' 20. When asked about his role, he explained that job is as much mentally demanding as it is physically.

"The toughest thing is not thinking about the cuts or what you need to do to get the first down, just going and doing it," Tolber said. "Being a short-yardage back, you have to have the mentality that I'm going downhill and I'm going to run over whoever is in the hole to get the extra yard or two yards that I need."

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