SAN DIEGO (AP) -- LaDainian Tomlinson broke a 76-yard run. He
went spinning this way and that. He carried a linebacker into the
end zone on his back.
Question on the Chargers: How big was this win for them?
This win puts the Chargers in the driver's seat in the AFC West. Marty Schottenheimer has put his stamp on this team. They're a running team, and the defense has a good front four. Last year, they started out 4-0 and then faded. This year there's been no fade, but momentum-building instead.
Question on the Broncos: How big was this loss for them?
Denver has now lost its past two division games (to San Diego and Oakland). So the Broncos need to start hoping for division rivals and other playoff hopefuls to lose. And you never want to be in a position where other teams control your destiny.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
No wonder Tomlinson was too wiped out to celebrate his biggest
day as a pro. His franchise-record 220 yards and three touchdowns
on 37 carries boosted San Diego to a thrilling 30-27 overtime win
over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, helping the Chargers take
control in the wild, wild AFC West.
Steve Christie won it with a 27-yard field goal with 3:01 left
in overtime. It was Christie's ninth career OT field goal, tying
him for the all-time lead with Jim Breech.
While Christie lined up, Tomlinson stood on the sideline with
fellow running back Terrell Fletcher. Fletcher grabbed Tomlinson's
helmet for safekeeping, anticipating a celebration.
"I was just kind of like, 'Hold on, let's make sure he makes it
first,''' Tomlinson said. "When it went through, it was like,
'It's over.' I don't know if I had anything left in me.''
Sure enough, "I was too tired to celebrate,'' Tomlinson said.
In winning in overtime for the second time in three weeks, the
Chargers (8-4) took a half-game lead over the Oakland Raiders
(7-4), who host the New York Jets on Monday night. Denver (7-5),
which had been in a three-way tie with the Chargers and Raiders,
lost for the third time in four games -- the last two on overtime
The Chargers host the Raiders next Sunday. San Diego beat the
Raiders 27-21 in overtime at Oakland on Oct. 20, on Tomlinson's
This game was also emotionally draining.
Denver's Jason Elam was short and wide left on a 53-yard field
goal attempt with 7:26 left in overtime. Elam kicked a 54-yarder in
the first quarter.
"There wasn't anything wrong with the snap or placement, it was
just a long kick,'' Elam said.
Still, when Elam was lining up, Chargers star linebacker Junior Seau took his gloves off, thinking the game was about to end.
"Eight out of 10 times, Jason will stab that,'' Seau said.
"We're just fortunate enough he didn't do that. Fortunately, we
had a kicker who finished them off.
"And I've got a superstar -- that L.T. guy we've got on this
team is a beast. I'm glad he's on our team,'' Seau said.
With chants of "L.T.! L.T.!'' coming from the crowd of 66,682,
the second-year running back carried six times for 17 yards on the
winning drive, keeping the ball in the middle of the field. Drew Brees also hit tight end Stephen Alexander on a 20-yard pass.
Christie, one of the NFL's best clutch kickers, then split the
uprights, redeeming himself for having a 38-yard attempt blocked
with 10:35 left in overtime, and missing twice in regulation.
The Broncos lost to the Colts 23-20 last week when Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 54-yarder with 3 seconds left in regulation,
then made a 51-yarder in overtime.
Tomlinson set the table for Christie on Sunday, carrying 10
times for 57 yards in overtime.
"He was probably pretty close to empty, but if we had to go
some more, I'm pretty sure he could have done it,'' fullback Fred McCrary said.
Tomlinson broke the club record of 217 yards he shared with Gary Anderson. Tomlinson ran for 217 in a 21-14 win over New England on
Tomlinson carried 37 times and scored on runs of 3, 1 and 5
yards on consecutive drives in the second quarter to rally the
Chargers from a 10-0 deficit.
He's rushed for 1,318 yards, only 32 yards shy of Natrone Means'
franchise record of 1,350 set during the Super Bowl season of 1994.
Tomlinson also caught 11 passes for 51 yards, giving him 271
yards of total offense. He overshadowed Denver's brilliant rookie,
Clinton Portis, who rushed 23 times for 159 yards and two
Christie kicked a 40-yard field goal for a 27-24 lead early in
the fourth quarter but was wide left on a 49-yard attempt with 5:07
left in regulation, his second miss of the day.
That gave Denver the ball at its 40. Steve Beuerlein and Portis
moved the Broncos to the San Diego 7, where Elam kicked a 24-yard
field goal 27 with 1:39 left in regulation.
The Broncos went ahead 10-0 late in the first quarter as Portis
blew through the Chargers for a 43-yard touchdown.
That seemed to give Tomlinson some motivation, because on the
Chargers' next play, he took a pitch from Drew Brees, slashed
through the Broncos and raced down the left sideline on a 76-yard
run. He was stopped as cornerback Tyrone Poole dragged him down by
the facemask at the Denver 6. It was the longest run of Tomlinson's
"The attitude and momentum changed from that play,'' Tomlinson
Chargers DT Jamal Williams dislocated his left ankle and
will be lost for the season. ... Broncos kick returner Scottie Montgomery was carted off the field with numbness in his neck. He returned to normal and flew home with the team.
Dallas drafted a running back with the fourth overall pick, just a month after Alfred Morris signed with the team. But Morris isn't bothered by it.
The Steelers' decision to sign Bruce Gradkowski doesn't mean Landry Jones won't win the No. 2 quarterback job.
The Bears have released veteran safety Antrel Rolle, who played in just seven games during his one season in Chicago because of ankle and knee injuries, as well as offensive guard Matt Slauson.
Su'a Cravens chose No. 36, the same number the late, great Sean Taylor wore as a rookie with the Redskins.
Mel Kiper isn't yet sold on Mackensie Alexander and Moritz Boehringer, grading the Vikings a B- for the draft, but give them some time to develop.
A James Harrison retirement, considering how hard he is working out this offseason, would be a major shock at this point.