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Monday, December 14, 2009

Bolts' Stomp Cowboys, Looking To Playoffs

ARLINGTON, Texas — A goal-line stand near the end of the first half, a long drive near the game’s end and big plays in between put the Chargers on the verge of their fourth straight playoff berth and perhaps more.

“We took care of business here, and now we’re going to get ready,” receiver Vincent Jackson said. “Cincinnati’s our biggest game.”

A 20-17 victory Sunday over the Dallas Cowboys on a day the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals lost put the Chargers two games up with three to play in the AFC West and also gave them an edge in the race for the No. 2 seed going into next Sunday’s home game against the Bengals.

“We’ve got a big game next week,” defensive end Luis Castillo said. “It’s a really big game with a lot of meaning for the next couple months.”

It was the Chargers’ eighth straight victory this season and 16th consecutive December win dating to 2006.

“Everything just seems to be clicking for us right now,” linebacker Shawne Merriman said. “We hit a stride that we’re continuing.”

Jackson has seven catches for 120 yards, including two of the Chargers’ three crucial long third-down receptions.

Dallas, which tied the game at 10 with an 11-play, 99-yard drive that ended the third quarter, will look back on a missed 42-yard field goal and failure to get in the end zone on three tries from the 1 in the second quarter.

After taking a 17-10 lead and stopping the Cowboys, the Chargers took over at their 11-yard line with 9:13 to play and kept the ball more than seven minutes en route to a field goal that made it 20-10.

The Cowboys scored a touchdown with two seconds to play, but Antonio Gates recovered an onside kick attempt to effectively end the game and keep the Chargers perfect over the past four Decembers.

“Everyone talks about finishing strong,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “You want to peak in December, and we have a history of doing that. We hope to carry that onto January, into 2010.”