JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It's not easy being this bad, although at times, the San Diego Chargers certainly made it look that way.
Byron Leftwich threw like a veteran and returning receiver Jimmy Smith played as if he hadn't missed a day as the Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Chargers and their butter-soft defense, 27-21, Sunday in a meeting of two teams that came in with 0-4 records.
"I'm relieved, I guess," said Coach Jack Del Rio, who got his first career victory. "More relief than joy, really."
Smith, returning from a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, caught eight passes for 137 yards, including a highlight-reel one-hander for a 36-yard gain.
"I was very grateful to go out there and do whatever I could to help the team," Smith said.
Leftwich threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns in his second career start, including a 60-yard touchdown on a screen pass to Fred Taylor that gave the Jaguars a 27-14 lead late.
Del Rio watched his team gain a season-high 436 yards, as the Jaguars sent the Chargers even deeper into despair.
Heading into their open date, the Chargers, along with the New York Jets (0-4), have an early lead in the race for the first pick of next year's draft. Not even David Boston's 14-catch, 181-yard game could save San Diego.
"The score doesn't even matter," Coach Marty Schottenheimer said, explaining his emphasis on toughening the team's attitude. "I talked all week -- don't even bother looking at the scoreboard."
They probably don't want to look too hard at their secondary, either. San Diego's young cornerbacks got torched.
San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, who was third in the league in rushing, finished with only 38 yards in 10 carries.
"We stand here at 0-5, that's the challenge we face," Schottenheimer said. "We're going to find a way to play 60 minutes of football with an attitude."