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L.T.: If the Chargers are hot going into playoffs, 'Whoa, Nellie!'

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Dec 17, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: Associated Press

    By Bernie Wilson

    <img src="http://i2.chargers.com/assets/213/38001_600w600h.jpg" alt="Running back LaDainian Tomlinson #21 runs against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on December 16, 2007 in San Diego California.(Harry How/Getty Images North America)" align="right" height="223" width="177" />SAN DIEGO (AP) -- If LaDainian Tomlinson is right, then at least part of the AFC playoff bracket could be in trouble.

    After a wildly inconsistent start to Norv Turner's first season as their coach, the Chargers are firing up at the right time. They've clinched their second straight AFC West title with two games to play and have the inside track to the No. 3 playoff seed.

    "Sometimes you just have to let the course of a season play out," Tomlinson said Monday, a day after the Chargers beat the Detroit Lions 51-14 to win their third division title in four seasons.

    "At some point it has to happen," Tomlinson said. "That's just how it is. For us not to be doing it, it's happening now. It's just coming at a later time, you know what I mean? And for us, it's great, because if we can be hot going into the playoffs, Whoa, Nellie! Whoa, Nellie!"

    The Chargers (9-5) have won four straight and eight of 10. They don't have to leave California the final two weeks, hosting Denver on Monday night and finishing at Oakland.

    The Chargers simply need to win out to earn the AFC's No. 3 seed. That would mean avoiding the probable No. 5 seed, Jacksonville, which beat the Chargers 24-17 on Nov. 18. If they are the No. 3 seed and win their opener, the Chargers would go to second-seeded Indianapolis, not No. 1 New England, for the divisional round.

    "If you continue to win you get to play the No. 1 seed in the championship game, if things go the way you think they will go," Tomlinson said.

    The Chargers beat Indianapolis 23-21 in San Diego on Nov. 11, when Peyton Manning threw a career-high six interceptions. There was a sense the Chargers lucked out, especially after Adam Vinatieri missed a 29-yard field goal attempt with 1:31 left.

    Then again, that was Antonio Cromartie's breakout game. Then a nickel back, Cromartie had three interceptions that night. Now a starting cornerback, Cromartie had his team-record 10th pickoff against the Lions as the Chargers intercepted Jon Kitna five times.

    Tomlinson doesn't care that being the No. 3 seed would mean delaying a date with the Patriots.

    "You're going to have to play them if they continue to win, so it doesn't matter if you play them the week before or in the championship game," he said. "You've got to earn the right to play them if they continue to win."

    Then again, the Chargers proved last year that having the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs didn't mean anything. Coming off a 14-2 regular season, the Chargers committed unfathomable errors and lost to the Patriots, 24-21.

    Tom Brady and Randy Moss schooled the Chargers on Sept. 16, winning 38-14 at Foxborough.

    The Chargers have beaten only two teams with winning records, Indy and Tennessee.

    Tomlinson thinks the Chargers would match up well against any team in the playoffs.

    "We'd like to say we're definitely a contender. We've got to prove it. When you get to the playoffs, it's totally different. You've got more pressure on you and also less room for error, and so you've really got to take advantage of your opportunities. When we get there, that's one thing we're going to talk about."

    A year ago, Tomlinson was finishing off his league MVP season that included an NFL-record 31 touchdowns and 186 points. He also won his first rushing title with 1,815 yards.

    Tomlinson is within reach of another rushing title. He has 1,311 yards, six behind league leader Willie Parker of Pittsburgh through Sunday.

    Tomlinson rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the first half Sunday. He felt his hamstring grab on a 49-yard run just before halftime and sat out the second half; he said he could have played if needed. Backup Michael Turner hurt a shoulder, opening the way for third-stringer Darren Sproles to run for 122 yards and two scores. It was the first time in team history that two backs ran for more than 100 yards in the same game.

    Tomlinson would love nothing more than to win a Super Bowl. So far in his brilliant career, he's 0-2 in the playoffs. Overall, the Chargers are on a four-game postseason losing streak dating to the Super Bowl following the 1994 season.

    While wanting to help the Chargers win, Tomlinson will want to know where he stands in the race for the rushing title as the season winds down. If the opportunity is right, he wants to win it.

    "Yeah, I would want to know, because that's something a lot of guys take pride in, not only myself but the offensive line group, tight ends, fullbacks," he said. "Yeah, you do want to know, especially with the way this season has unfolded."

    Tomlinson said he did some running Monday and the hamstring is fine.

    Coach Norv Turner was asked what he'd do if Tomlinson needed just a handful of yards late in the final game to win the rushing title.

    'I can't answer that. That's a what-if," Turner said. "We could put L.T.'s jersey on Sproles and put him in there."

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