Short-handed Chargers defense gets it done

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The Chargers were facing one of the league’s best fourth-quarter quarterbacks, without perhaps their four best linebackers.

So naturally, it was the Chargers defense that stole the show in last night’s 19-9 win over the Colts.

We knew we were shorthanded out there,” safety Eric Weddle said, via Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego. “Those guys stepped up, . . . Geez, they just played hard.”

The Chargers were playing without starters Jarrett Johnson (hamstring) and Donald Butler (groin), in addition to the guys they knew wouldn’t be available (Dwight Freeney on IR and Melvin Ingram on the PUP list). That forced guys such as Andrew Gachkar and Tourek Williams into the starting lineup.

So naturally, defensive coordinator John Pagano dialed up enough pressure to keep his brother’s team on its heels all night.

“I thought he was aggressive when he needed to be aggressive,” Johnson said of Pagano and the defense he watched. “I thought he played off when he needed to. He called a phenomenal game. I love pressure.

“I was happy to see him cut loose and say, ”You know what? We’re going to be aggressive and bring who we got.'”

That defense also provided the signature moment late, when Derek Cox picked off a pass intended for Reggie Wayne that could have added another page to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck’s book of late-game heroics.