SAN DIEGO — Those early losses to Dallas and Denver now appear to have been hiccups for the San Diego Chargers. After routing the two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots 41-17 at Foxborough on Sunday, the Chargers are the highest-scoring team in the AFC. If they can get past the Pittsburgh Steelers at home on Monday night, it might be time for them to be considered among the NFL’s elite. “It’s hard to base the season off two games, but if we continue to win like we have been winning, then I think it’s something that we can look forward to,” linebacker Donnie Edwards said Monday. “But, we take them as they come.” Sunday’s victory, which ended New England’s 21-game home winning streak, opened a month that likely will define the Chargers’ season. In a span of four games, the defending AFC West champions will play three of the four teams that played in last year’s conference championship games. They play at Philadelphia on Oct. 23. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 And while it’s true the Chargers (2-2) are a .500 club, their efficiency in beating the Patriots and the New York Giants has been eye-opening, compared to the way they played the first two games. First, though, the Chargers don’t feel the need to apologize for beating a beat-up Patriots team. “They were 21-0 over there at home, and you look up at the stadium and they’ve got those three banners up there, World Champions.’ That commands respect,” Edwards said. “Regardless of injuries, you’ve got to go in there and win the game. So we focus on us getting the job done, not what they had to take care of.” Edwards’ interception of third-string quarterback Matt Cassel led to the Chargers’ final score. He lateraled to Clinton Hart, who ran 40 yards for a TD with 34 seconds left. “We came up with a big victory, so that’s all that matters to me,” Edwards said. “As long as we won the game, I don’t care who gets respect. We won.” Including a 45-23 rout of Eli Manning and the Giants a week earlier, the Chargers have scored 86 points in two games and lead the AFC with 127 points. That’s second in the NFL to the Giants’ 136. And it’s almost like offensive coordinator Cam Cameron suddenly remembered he’s got the NFL’s highest-paid running back on his roster. After LaDainian Tomlinson gained just 124 yards combined in the first two games, he ran for 192 yards against the Giants and 134 at New England. He’s rushed for five touchdowns in the last two games, and also threw a touchdown pass against New York. Tomlinson has scored an NFL-high eight touchdowns. With 450 yards rushing, he trails only Seattle’s Shaun Alexander, who has 455. Drew Brees threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots after throwing for 191 yards and two scores against the Giants. He hasn’t been intercepted or sacked in two games. Brees threw to eight different players Sunday, including six passes for 108 yards to tight end Antonio Gates. The Chargers probably would be 3-1 if general manager A.J. Smith hadn’t suspended Gates for the last two exhibition games and the opener against Dallas for missing a team-imposed deadline for ending his training camp holdout. The Chargers lost to Dallas, 28-24, despite have a first-and-goal from the Cowboys’ 7 in the closing minutes. Brees doesn’t care if the Chargers are considered an elite team. “We’re probably just flying under the radar, just going out and taking care of our business,” he said. “And all that stuff takes care of itself when the time comes. We’re a team that if we keep going at the rate we’re going, yes, we’ll reach that level. But it just continues to take work and work and work, and we’re not there yet.” Tomlinson doesn’t care, either. “I’m pretty sure if you keep winning and playing well, people start to notice, and that’s part of it,” he said. “But we don’t really have to have people notice us. We live to try to put a Super Bowl ring on our finger. That’s the motivation.” By Monday, Tomlinson was tired of talking about the win over the Patriots. “My focus now is Pittsburgh. I don’t want to keep thinking about the New England Patriots, and us beating them. We beat New York last week, and now we’ve got Pittsburgh this week. You know what? Now people are saying the Indianapolis Colts are the best team in the NFL. So, I mean, so it’s like, Forget about the Patriots, it’s all about the Colts, baby,”‘ Tomlinson said with a laugh. The Chargers visit the Colts on Dec. 18. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!