Final

Chargers 35

(8-2, 4-2 away)

Broncos 27

(7-3, 3-2 home)

Coverage: NBC

8:15 PM ET, November 19, 2006

Invesco Field, Denver, CO 

1 2 3 4 T
SD 7 0 14 1435
DEN 0 14 10 327

Top Performers

Passing: P. Rivers (SD) - 222 YDS, 2 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: L. Tomlinson (SD) - 20 CAR, 105 YDS, 3 TD

Receiving: L. Tomlinson (SD) - 3 REC, 74 YDS, 1 TD

Riding high: Tomlinson's four touchdowns buck Broncos

DENVER (AP) -- History and big leads aren't safe around LaDainian Tomlinson and the San Diego Chargers.

San Diego's remarkable running back scored four times and reached 100 touchdowns faster than any player in NFL history Sunday night, leading the Chargers past the Denver Broncos 35-27 in a showdown for first place in the AFC West.

Scouts Inc.'s take ...
For the second consecutive week the San Diego Chargers fell behind by double digits and for the second consecutive week it did not matter. This game featured one of the best offenses in the NFL (San Diego) against one of the best defenses in the NFL (Denver) and on this night, offense won out. San Diego has the ultimate weapon in RB LaDainian Tomlinson (four touchdowns) and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron does a great job of getting Tomlinson (above) touches from the backfield and in mismatches in the passing game. The Chargers had great offensive balance with 29 passes and 26 rushes. That balance was enough to keep one of the best defenses off balance all night long. Denver had 27 points but seven came on defense and after another dismal performance by QB Jake Plummer, Denver head coach Mike Shanahan will need to seriously evaluate whether it is time to make a change at the QB position.

The Chargers (8-2) became the first NFL team to win back-to-back games after trailing by 17 or more points, and the first club to win four straight when allowing at least 24 points in each game.

With San Diego trailing 24-7, it certainly appeared the Broncos (7-3) had taken Tomlinson out of the mix for the sixth straight time in Denver, where he had averaged just 53 yards rushing in five straight losses.

But these Chargers are becoming the masters of the comeback.

"Resilient bunch of guys," Tomlinson said. "Our team, we're never out of it, and I think this is a very special team because no matter what happens, no matter how much we're down, we're never out of the football game."

Thanks to Tomlinson, who finally found himself relevant in the Mile High City.

"I feel like Steve Young in a way when he said, 'Get the monkey off my back," Tomlinson said. "This is not the Super Bowl, but it's a huge burden that has been lifted off me. In five years I hadn't won in Denver. Hadn't had much success here, either. It feels good."

Tomlinson has scored an NFL-record 19 touchdowns in his last six games and reached 100 TDs in his 89th game, four fewer than it took Hall of Famer Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith. He has 102 TDs and topped 1,000 yards rushing for the sixth straight season.

"He's unbelievable," Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers said. "He's the best in the business. He's unbelievable with it under his arm, he's unbelievable as we've seen on the pass, he's unbelievable blocking. He brings it on every play. He's the ultimate weapon, and you throw the guys we've got around him and we feel like we can score whatever we need on any given week."

As usual, Tomlinson deflected the praise as easily as he does tacklers.

"It's a phenomenal thing. But I have a lot of guys to thank," Tomlinson said. "Our offensive line has played great this season. Lorenzo Neal is the best at blocking, so it's a whole team effort. I can't take all the credit."

After Tomlinson scored his first three TDs, Rivers found Vincent Jackson in the back of the end zone to give San Diego a 28-27 lead with 6:45 left, erasing the final remnants of Denver's big lead.

The Chargers iced it when cornerback Drayton Florence picked off Jake Plummer's pass deep in Broncos' territory with three minutes left, leading to Tomlinson's fourth score, a 1-yard touchdown run with 1:14 left.

However, the Chargers made things interesting, allowing the Broncos to drive from their 3 to the Chargers 32 thanks to a personal foul on defensive end Igor Olshansky, who was ejected for punching center Tom Nalen. The Broncos' hopes for overtime ended when Plummer was sacked by Shaun Phillips and time ran out.

Tomlinson rushed 20 times for 105 yards and caught three passes for 74 more.

"Best running back ever, next to Jim Brown," Denver defensive lineman Gerard Warren said.

Having erased two 21-point deficits a week earlier at Cincinnati, the Chargers found themselves trailing 24-7 early in the third quarter after Darrent Williams' 31-yard interception return for a touchdown.

"I mean, you've got to feel like you're going to win the game when you're up 24-7," Williams said.

Actually, the Broncos were right where the Chargers wanted them.

"We had already done it (at Cincinnati), so there was no doubt in our minds we could do it," Rivers said.

Tomlinson, who scored on a 3-yard run in the first quarter, added a 3-yard TD run in the third to get to the century mark and cut the Chargers' deficit to 24-14. He didn't have a big celebration, choosing instead to tuck the ball in his left arm and walk to the Chargers bench.

After Denver went three-and-out, Tomlinson jogged back out and caught a 51-yard screen pass for a touchdown to cut the Broncos' lead to 24-21 with 3:51 left in the third quarter.

Jason Elam's field goal gave Denver a 27-21 cushion with 11 minutes left.

The Broncos took a 14-7 lead into the locker room on Mike Bell's two 3-yard TD runs, and Cecil Sapp returned the second-half kickoff 53 yards, setting up Elam's 42-yard field goal. Three plays later, Williams scored to make it 24-7.

Tomlinson quickly quieted the rocking stadium.

"Every time he touches the ball you just hold your breath to see what he's going to do," Neal said.

Game notes


Williams said field judge Eddy Powers said something derogatory to him before he responded and got flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after Tomlinson's final TD. ... The Chargers have scored 70 second-half points the last two weeks and just 14 first-half points.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
SD
DEN
1st Downs2120
Passing 1st downs
129
Rushing 1st downs
99
1st downs from penalties
02
3rd down efficiency
8-126-15
4th down efficiency
0-02-3
Total Plays5665
Total Yards342326
Yards per play6.15.0
Total Drives1111
Passing217168
Comp-Att
19-2613-28
Yards per pass
8.05.6
Interceptions thrown
21
Sacks-Yards Lost
1-52-15
Rushing125158
Rushing Attempts
2935
Yards per rush
4.34.5
Red Zone (Made-Att)4-42-3
Penalties5-356-60
Turnovers21
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
21
Defensive / Special Teams TDs01
Possession29:1130:49

Passing Leaders

SDC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Rivers19/262228.5221-5
DENC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Plummer13/281836.5012-15

Rushing Leaders

SDCARYDSAVGTDLG
Tomlinson201055.3324
Turner4123.0011
DENCARYDSAVGTDLG
Bell20904.528
Nash10525.2026

Receiving Leaders

SDRECYDSAVGTDLG
Tomlinson37424.7151
Gates5489.6017
DENRECYDSAVGTDLG
Walker46817.0028
Nash33612.0013

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERSDDEN
sdTD0:13LaDainian Tomlinson, 3 yd run (Nate Kaeding kick is good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 99 yds, 6:19
70
SECOND QUARTERSDDEN
denTD8:21Mike Bell, 3 yd run (Jason Elam kick is good)
Drive info: 13 plays, 88 yds, 6:51
77
denTD0:39Mike Bell, 3 yd run (Jason Elam kick is good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 86 yds, 3:42
714
THIRD QUARTERSDDEN
denFG10:53Jason Elam 42 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 23 yds, 4:12
717
denTD9:35Darrent Williams, 31 yd interception return (Jason Elam kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 4 yds, 1:23
724
sdTD5:15LaDainian Tomlinson, 3 yd run (Nate Kaeding kick is good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 60 yds, 4:15
1424
sdTD4:00LaDainian Tomlinson, 51 yd pass from Philip Rivers (Nate Kaeding kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 58 yds, 0:50
2124
FOURTH QUARTERSDDEN
denFG11:17Jason Elam 38 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 14 plays, 60 yds, 7:38
2127
sdTD6:51Vincent Jackson, 5 yd pass from Philip Rivers (Nate Kaeding kick is good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 55 yds, 4:28
2827
sdTD1:17LaDainian Tomlinson, 1 yd run (Nate Kaeding kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 23 yds, 1:49
3527