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Bolts Showed Fight All Season

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Quarterback Philip Rivers (l.) is a major reason why the San Diego Chargers’ 2013 season was a resounding success. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Quarterback Philip Rivers (l.) is a major reason why the San Diego Chargers’ 2013 season was a resounding success. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The San Diego Chargers’ 2013 season was a complete success.

Period.

The notion that anything short of a Super Bowl victory is a failure of a season is ludicrous. 

At some point or another, each team takes a brutal punch from reality. Its shortcomings are revealed, weaknesses are exposed and limitations are exploited. But every game lost is a fight won.

Moral victories?

Yeah, they’re not a hot topic in the locker room but they do have some validity.

In the case of the Chargers, they finally hit the deck against the Denver Broncos in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. But, the hope and passion they reignited in a slumbering franchise, and a waning fan base, are reasons to believe the next round is winnable. 

“Let's face it, last year at this time or even during training camp we had no identity. We were brand new. No one really knew what to expect,” said general manager Tom Telesco.  “Early on in the season you could tell we had an identity of what we are. We defined ourselves early and we had a great year.”

Fresh off his team’s third straight playoff-less season, and amidst growing distaste for then-GM A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner, President and CEO Dean Spanos finally cleared house at the end of the 2012 season. Spanos hired Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy shortly afterward, and the two quickly gave life to the knocked-out state of Chargers football.

San Diego went from 5-7 and all but eliminated from playoff contention to winning four straight and barely squeaking into the postseason, and then capped off its improbable run by winning a playoff game on the road and advancing to the second round of the postseason.

Say what?

This season was as unpredictable as any in team history. You never knew which team was going to show up -- the one that lost to Tennessee, Washington and Oakland, or the one that went 5-2 against playoff teams.

However, there was one constant:  the team’s progression. San Diego continually and gradually got better as the season went on, and peaked at just the right time.

“We’re much farther along today than we were last year at this time and we feel good about that,” Telesco said. “We still have a little ways to go, probably more than a little … but we’re going in the right direction and that’s the big thing right now. And we saw progress this year.”

Added McCoy: “We have come a long way in a short amount of time. They have bought in to everything. The culture has changed.”

In 18 games, the Chargers never lost by more than 10 points. And their resiliency was perhaps best on display in their postseason loss to the Broncos, after clawing their way back from a 24-7 deficit in the fourth quarter.

Look, this team outperformed itself. The Chargers fought hard all season, and there’s no reason to think they won’t again next season.

Every champion has a fall before greatness.