Broncos
Chargers
20 - 48 Final
  for this game

Tomlinson sets single-season TD record, Chargers clinch division

Dec 11, 2006 - 12:43 AM SAN DIEGO (Ticker) -- It was a day of celebration for LaDainian Tomlinson and the San Diego Chargers.

Tomlinson rushed for three scores to set an NFL single-season record for touchdowns as the Chargers clinched their second AFC West title in three years with a 48-20 victory over the Denver Broncos, completing a sweep of their division rivals.

It has been a dream season for Tomlinson, who has 29 touchdowns in 13 games to eclipse the record of 28 set by Shaun Alexander of Seattle last season.

"It is extra meaningful, because not only do you break the record, but you clinch the division and clinch a playoff spot and then you take over the No. 1 seed in the AFC," said Tomlinson, who has 26 touchdowns rushing and three receiving. "So many things happened today that are special for this football team."

And Tomlinson did it in dramatic fashion for the home fans, rushing for two of his scores in a 47-second span late in the fourth quarter.

"I believe (Tomlinson) is the finest running back to ever wear a uniform," Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "For all the skills he has as a player, they pale by comparison to the person."

Tomlinson pulled within one of Alexander's record and tied Priest Holmes for the second-highest single-season total when he scored on a seven-yard run with 23 seconds left in the second quarter to help the Chargers build a 28-3 lead.

Tomlinson, who also recorded his seventh straight 100-yard rushing game with 103 yards on 28 carries, scored on a six-yard run to tie Alexander's record with 3:57 left in the fourth quarter.

It appeared Tomlinson would have to wait another week to eclipse the record. But on Denver's ensuing possession, linebacker Shawne Merriman stripped the ball from rookie quarterback Jay Cutler and recovered the fumble at the Denver 7.

"I looked up on the Jumbotron and I knew how close he (Tomlinson) was to breaking the record," Merriman said. "I knew if he got the ball back again, he was going to break it. I was just glad to be a part of it."

With chants of "L.T!, L.T!" reverberating from the stands, Tomlinson took a handoff from Philip Rivers and raced around the left side for a seven-yard touchdown to eclipse Alexander's record.

"It was an awesome moment," Rivers said. "I had the chills there before the play waiting around. It was that special. Looking around in the stands, there wasn't one person sitting down. It had that magical feel."

Tomlinson was mobbed in the end zone by his teammates, who hoisted him on their shoulders.

"Once I got over the pylon, my initial thought process was to bring every guy on the offensive unit over to share that moment," Tomlinson said. "Not only me, but our offensive line, our fullback Lorenzo (Neal) and our tight ends. We can talk about something special we did, we made history today. There's no better feeling than to share it with the group of guys that's in that locker room."

Tomlinson has reached the end zone 26 times in his last nine games. He rushed for three touchdowns and caught a 51-yard score in a 35-27 win at Denver on November 19.

"L.T. is one heck of a football player and one heck of a class guy as well," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's had a great year. Obviously, when you set a record like he has, it's a combination of playing very well and playing very consistent and he'd probably be the first one to tell you it's a team accomplishment and not an individual one."

With Tomlinson paving the way, the Chargers (11-2) have won seven straight games to move to the top of the AFC, one game ahead of Indianapolis, which lost at Jacksonville, in the battle for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

The latest win, coupled by Kansas City's loss to Baltimore earlier in the day, sealed the division crown.

"Obviously, we knew the situation that Kansas City lost and Indy lost before we kicked off," said Rivers, who passed for 279 yards and two touchdowns. "We knew what we were playing for and we took care of business. We control our own destiny at this point."

The loss was the fourth in a row for Denver (7-6), which slipped one game behind Jacksonville and Cincinnati in the AFC wild-card race. Denver last lost four straight to start the 1999 season.

The Broncos are 0-2 since Shanahan benched Jake Plummer in favor of Cutler, who was 17-of-30 for 188 yards and two touchdowns but was sacked four times, twice by Merriman.

"They were just putting a lot of pressure and exploding the pocket pretty quick, and I don't know if I was expecting it to happen that quick," Cutler said. "Once I settled down and we got spread out a little bit, things got better.

Cutler hit rookie tight end Tony Scheffler with touchdown passes of 28 and 11 yards just 48 seconds apart early in the third quarter. Jason Elam kicked a 33-yard field goal with 1:02 left in the quarter to pull the Broncos within 28-20.

"I was pleased when we came back and seemed to step up in the third quarter," Shanahan said. "We were right there, we had a chance to come back and I think win that game. But it's a credit to them that they found a way to make plays when they had to."

The Chargers made all the big plays in the fourth quarter. Rivers hit Vincent Jackson with a 55-yard pass on the first play of the quarter to set up a 34-yard field goal by Nate Kaeding.

On San Diego's next possession, Rivers connected with tight end Antonio Gates on a 19-yard pass to set up a 35-yard field goal by Kaeding, increasing the lead to 34-20 with 8:15 left.

Gates caught touchdown passes of 12 and seven yards in the first half and finished with seven receptions for 104 yards.

Denver failed to convert a 4th-and-2 when Cutler was sacked for an eight-yard loss by defensive end Luis Castillo. The Chargers took over at the Denver 20 and, five plays later, Tomlinson tied the single-season record with a six-yard touchdown, spinning off a tackle at the 3 before reaching the end zone with 3:57 remaining.

Tomlinson also tied John Riggins' NFL record of seven consecutive multi-touchdown games set with Washington in 1983.

Tatum Bell rushed for 116 yards on 17 carries for the Broncos.








  • NFL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    DENVER 0 3 17 0 20
    SAN DIEGO 14 14 0 20 48 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: SDG - TD, ANTONIO GATES 12 YD PASS FROM
    PHILIP RIVERS (NATE KAEDING KICK),
    10:10. Drive: 4 plays, 44 yards in
    2:17. Key plays: Parker 3-yard punt
    return to Denver 44; Tomlinson
    17-yard run t

    Dec 10 7:23 PM


  • NFL
    TD SDG
    LADAINIAN TOMLINSON 7 YD RUN
    (NATE KAEDING KICK)
    DENVER 20
    SAN DIEGO 48 3:10 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 10 7:16 PM


  • NFL
    TD SDG
    LADAINIAN TOMLINSON 6 YD RUN
    (NATE KAEDING KICK)
    DENVER 20
    SAN DIEGO 41 3:57 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 10 7:07 PM


  • NFL
    FG SDG
    NATE KAEDING 35 YD
    DENVER 20
    SAN DIEGO 34 8:17 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 10 6:55 PM


  • NFL
    FG SDG
    NATE KAEDING 34 YD
    DENVER 20
    SAN DIEGO 31 12:52 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 10 6:41 PM


  • NFL
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    DENVER 0 3 17 20
    SAN DIEGO 14 14 0 28 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: SDG - TD, ANTONIO GATES 12 YD PASS FROM
    PHILIP RIVERS (NATE KAEDING KICK),
    10:10. Drive: 4 plays, 44 yards in
    2:17. Key plays: Parker 3-yard punt
    return to Denver 44; Tomlinson
    17-yar

    Dec 10 6:35 PM


  • NFL
    FG DEN
    JASON ELAM 33 YD
    DENVER 20
    SAN DIEGO 28 1:02 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 10 6:32 PM


  • NFL
    TD DEN
    TONY SCHEFFLER 11 YD PASS FROM JAY CUTLER
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    DENVER 17
    SAN DIEGO 28 9:47 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 10 6:11 PM


  • NFL
    TD DEN
    TONY SCHEFFLER 28 YD PASS FROM JAY CUTLER
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    DENVER 10
    SAN DIEGO 28 10:35 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 10 6:03 PM


  • NFL
    HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    DENVER 0 3 3
    SAN DIEGO 14 14 28 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: SDG - TD, ANTONIO GATES 12 YD PASS FROM
    PHILIP RIVERS (NATE KAEDING KICK),
    10:10. Drive: 4 plays, 44 yards in
    2:17. Key plays: Parker 3-yard punt
    return to Denver 44; Tomlinson
    17-yard ru

    Dec 10 5:38 PM


  • NFL
    TD SDG
    ANTONIO GATES 7 YD PASS FROM PHILIP RIVERS
    (NATE KAEDING KICK)
    DENVER 3
    SAN DIEGO 28 0:23 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 10 5:36 PM


  • NFL
    TD SDG
    LADAINIAN TOMLINSON 1 YD RUN
    (NATE KAEDING KICK)
    DENVER 3
    SAN DIEGO 21 10:15 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 10 5:06 PM


  • NFL
    FG DEN
    JASON ELAM 34 YD
    DENVER 3
    SAN DIEGO 14 12:49 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 10 5:00 PM


  • NFL
    TD SDG
    LORENZO NEAL 4 YD RUN
    (NATE KAEDING KICK)
    DENVER 0
    SAN DIEGO 14 0:05 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 10 4:52 PM


  • NFL
    TD SDG
    ANTONIO GATES 12 YD PASS FROM PHILIP RIVERS
    (NATE KAEDING KICK)
    DENVER 0
    SAN DIEGO 7 4:50 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 10 4:41 PM