SAN DIEGO (AP) -It all goes back to that darn New England game.
No matter how much the San Diego Chargers would like to forget their playoff pratfall in January, there's no escaping it this week.
Eight months and two days after the Chargers' epic collapse in their playoff opener, they'll be facing the Patriots again, this time at Foxborough on Sunday night.
As reigning league MVP LaDainian Tomlinson pointed out Monday, the teams are not in the same situation they were in January, when it was win or go home.
That said, the Chargers staged quite a playoff pratfall for a team that was an NFL-best 14-2, including 8-0 at home. They gave Tom Brady and the Patriots chance after chance with turnovers and penalties. The Patriots cashed in for 11 points in the final 4:36 and won 24-21.
After the final gun, the normally mild-mannered Tomlinson went after Ellis Hobbs for dancing around at midfield, mocking Shawne Merriman's ``Lights Out'' sack dance.
Tomlinson ripped the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick, saying: ``They showed no class and maybe that comes from the head coach.''
Tomlinson said he's moved past the aftermath of the gut-wrenching loss. As it turned out, Belichick coached the AFC team in the Pro Bowl, and he and Tomlinson had a chance to speak.
``I guess I'm at the point where it really doesn't matter how I feel about them,'' Tomlinson said Monday, a day after the Chargers beat the Chicago Bears 14-3. ``Who cares about the way I feel about them? I want to beat them. It doesn't matter how I feel about them. That's not important. Winning, that's important.''
Tomlinson, who threw for one score and ran for another against the Bears, doesn't think the Chargers need to look back at the playoff loss for motivation.
``It's not the same situation. It doesn't mean as much. Probably because after this game there's 14 more,'' Tomlinson said. ``But it's still going to be an exciting game and both teams are really going to want to win the game.''
All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates said the Chargers have more focus than they did in the last meeting.
o do with the play calling, it's got something to do with the execution.''
Losing a game like that, ``you mature and you learn from it. We definitely learned from it,'' Gates said.
Quarterback Philip Rivers said there will be some emotion kicked up by the playoff loss. But, he quickly added: ``This game doesn't change that one, win or lose. That game really, you can't fix it. It doesn't change anything about it. So I think it's just a new year.
``Two years ago we went out there and won, and didn't make the playoffs. A lot of people forget about that win. For us it's important because it's the second one on the schedule and we're 1-0,'' Rivers said.
The Chargers beat the Patriots 41-17 at Foxborough in 2005, with Tomlinson rushing for 134 yards and two touchdowns. The Chargers finished 9-7 that season.
Notes: Returner Darren Sproles, who sustained a concussion on the opening kickoff Sunday, said he's been cleared to play against the Patriots. ``I'm good to go,'' he said. Coach Norv Turner said Sproles probably could have returned in the fourth quarter against the Bears. ... Fullback Andrew Pinnock (hamstring) and safety Clinton Hart (quad bruise) are both listed as day-to-day.

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