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Tomlinson continues rushing title march; Chargers rout Broncos

Dec 25, 2007 - 5:39 AM By Tim Powers PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SAN DIEGO (Ticker) -- LaDainian Tomlinson moved up the NFL rushing rankings and the San Diego Chargers continued to dominate a division rival.

Tomlinson rushed for 107 yards and one touchdown - giving him the NFL lead in both categories - as the Chargers won their fifth straight, a 23-3 triumph over the reeling Denver Broncos on Monday.

San Diego (10-5) moved one step closer to clinching the third seed in the AFC playoff rankings, as the AFC West champions are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5). The Chargers visit the Oakland Raiders in their regular-season finale.

"I think it's pretty important to be the third seed," Tomlinson said. "We would play the last team in, either Tennessee or Cleveland. We're familiar with Tennessee, because we played them this year. Cleveland, we're kind of familiar with them a little bit because we've played them in the past."

The reigning league MVP has rushed for 1,418 yards on the season, moving him past Pittsburgh's Willie Parker, and has an NFL-best 15 touchdowns for the campaign.

"It's something that we're going to see how it goes next week and play it by ear," Tomlinson said of seeking his second rushing title. "I'm expecting that we'll at least start off the game playing next week. If that's the case, I'm not going to ease up or slide down running the football."

The Broncos became the latest visiting opponent to fall behind early to San Diego. After building a 10-0 in the first quarter thanks to a 17-yard rushing touchdown by Tomlinson, the Chargers have outscored their visiting opponents, 81-0, in the opening session.

"I liked what we did in terms of balance offensively," Chargers coach Norv Turner said. "Defensively, I think we just keep getting better. We're still a real young team and we can keep improving. That's what we need to do to get ready for a run."

Philip Rivers went 17-for-25 with 189 yards and a touchdown, improving to 30-for-43 with three touchdowns and no interceptions against Denver (6-9) on the season.

"For the most part, we executed well on both sides of the ball," Rivers said. "It was a good win against a division opponent. The division is locked up, but we knew the importance of this game and Denver always plays us tough."

The win also marks San Diego's fourth straight over the Broncos, with the two wins coming by a combined score of 64-6.

"If you don't run the football and make some tough yards, they're going to do it to you," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "You're going to get embarrassed like we did twice this year, including when they beat us up at home."

The contest was never close, as Denver was hurt by two turnovers and a forgettable debut by punter Paul Ernster, who replaced the recently released Todd Sauerbrun and averaged just 35.6 yards on five punts - with a 59-yarder at the beginning of the second quarter bringing some respectability to an awful performance.

Ernster managed just 17 yards on a punt in the first quarter to set San Diego up with the advantageous field position that led to Tomlinson's touchdown.

Jason Elam, who passed John Elway for most games played with the Broncos with 235 in his career, scored Denver's only points when he kicked a 23-yard field goal with 2:47 in the third.

Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler completed 14 of 32 passes for 155 yards and two interception. Selvin Young rushed 10 times for 39 yards for the Broncos, who have lost four of five.

"We had high expectations coming into this year, and it's been extremely frustrating," Broncos safety John Lynch said. "To get whooped a couple of times by a division opponent is no fun."








  • NFL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    DENVER 0 0 3 0 3
    SAN DIEGO 10 6 7 0 23 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: SDG - FG, NATE KAEDING 40 YD, 7:30. Drive: 10
    plays, 60 yards in 5:10. Key plays:
    Tomlinson 16-yard run to Denver 48;
    Tomlinson 2-yard run plus 15-yard
    unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on
    Bronc

    Dec 24 11:00 PM


  • NFL
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    DENVER 0 0 3 3
    SAN DIEGO 10 6 7 23 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: SDG - FG, NATE KAEDING 40 YD, 7:30. Drive: 10
    plays, 60 yards in 5:10. Key plays:
    Tomlinson 16-yard run to Denver 48;
    Tomlinson 2-yard run plus 15-yard
    unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on

    Dec 24 10:24 PM


  • NFL
    FG DEN
    JASON ELAM 23 YD
    DENVER 3
    SAN DIEGO 23 2:47 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 24 10:15 PM
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    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 24 10:03 PM


  • NFL
    TD SDG
    CHRIS CHAMBERS 4 YD PASS FROM PHILIP RIVERS
    (NATE KAEDING KICK)
    DENVER 0
    SAN DIEGO 23 7:56 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 24 9:57 PM
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  • NFL
    FG SDG
    NATE KAEDING 29 YD
    DENVER 0
    SAN DIEGO 16 0:00 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Dec 24 9:29 PM


  • NFL
    FG SDG
    NATE KAEDING 29 YD
    DENVER 0
    SAN DIEGO 16 0:00 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 24 9:29 PM


  • NFL
    FG SDG
    NATE KAEDING 23 YD
    DENVER 0
    SAN DIEGO 13 3:43 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 24 9:14 PM


  • NFL
    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    DENVER 0 0
    SAN DIEGO 10 10 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: SDG - FG, NATE KAEDING 40 YD, 7:30. Drive: 10
    plays, 60 yards in 5:10. Key plays:
    Tomlinson 16-yard run to Denver 48;
    Tomlinson 2-yard run plus 15-yard
    unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on

    Dec 24 8:46 PM


  • NFL
    TD SDG
    LADAINIAN TOMLINSON 17 YD RUN
    (NATE KAEDING KICK)
    DENVER 0
    SAN DIEGO 10 1:51 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 24 8:41 PM


  • NFL
    FG SDG
    NATE KAEDING 40 YD
    DENVER 0
    SAN DIEGO 3 7:30 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Broncos vs. ChargersDec 24 8:25 PM
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