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LT unleashed for 198 yards, four TDs to finish Raiders

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 15, 2007.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    October 15, 2007
    Blasting through one arm tackle after another, further into historical lore, LaDainian Tomlinson took over a game that needed a closer.
    He was not the only Charger to play yesterday as if a season depended on his being wickedly awesome – the Chargers had a season-high six sacks and created three turnovers – but Tomlinson scored every point except the extras and made run after run that mattered.
    In a 28-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders that tied the Chargers for first place in the AFC West just three weeks after they were struggling to find a pulse, Tomlinson gained 198 yards, every last one of them crucial.
    The final 41 of his yards came on a gallop to the end zone that gave the Chargers a two-touchdown lead with 2:43 remaining, with a game and a season and a team's psyche still very much in question.
    “That last drive we all said in the huddle, 'Let's leave it up to us. Let's not put it on the defense. Let's finish it right here,' ” Tomlinson recalled afterward. “We knew we were getting ready to run the ball. The offensive line was jacked up about it that Norv (Turner) was putting the ball in our hands. That last drive was beautiful. I don't know if you can script a better drive in that situation.”
    On a day when he ran for four touchdowns – to tie for fourth place with Jim Brown on the all-time list with 106 rushing touchdowns and past Earl Campbell into 23rd place with 9,505 rushing yards – Tomlinson also securely placed his own season back on track.
    Through the first three games of this season, Tomlinson had 130 rushing yards. Three games later, he has 527 yards and seven touchdowns. In the first six games of last year's MVP season, in which he set the NFL record with 31 touchdowns and led the league in rushing yards, he had 473 yards and eight touchdowns.
    “That's vintage LT,” said cornerback Quentin Jammer, himself a hero yesterday with a touchdown-saving tackle in the second quarter. “He's the best player in the league. He really hadn't got off to a great start, but you know what he can do. You know if you keep chugging at it, eventually he'll kill somebody. He'll probably start killing a lot of people now.”
    With next weekend off, having beat the Raiders for an eighth consecutive time, the Chargers (3-3) have put together their first winning streak of the season.
    In the tightly bunched and highly disappointing AFC West, they are tied for first place with Kansas City, though the Chiefs are technically ahead of them based on their victory here Sept. 30. The Raiders (2-3) fell from first place to last, trailing Denver (2-3) because of their loss to the Broncos last month.
    “It was important for us to get to 3-3 at the bye,” said Turner, who beat the team that fired him after the 2005 season. “We can work on the things we need to work on, things we need to get better at. We come out of the bye and we have a 10-game season.”
    <TABLE cellPadding=2 width=224 align=right><TBODY><TR><TD>[​IMG]
    K.C. ALFRED / Union-Tribune​
    Chargers CB Antonio Cromartie gets serious air time celebrating his third-quarter interception with LB Shaun Phillips, who had two sacks and a forced fumble himself.

    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>For the second straight Sunday, the Chargers' season teetered on a victory.
    While the Chargers overall played about as well yesterday as they did in last week's blowout victory at Denver, an interception returned for a touchdown made this a game midway through the second quarter.
    Much as they did against Kansas City, their last opponent on this field, the Chargers allowed an overmatched opponent to hang around. It appeared this was going to be worse, as the Raiders drove from their 14 and were a yard from tying the game 14-14 just before halftime.
    They would have were it not for Jammer tackling Ronald Curry at the 1 and the ensuing sacks on back-to-back plays by Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips to end the Oakland threat.
    At halftime, the defense spoke of getting an immediate stop and the offense talked of getting a quick score to regain control of the game.
    Both things happened.
    The Raiders punted after four plays, and the Chargers took six plays to drive 68 yards, scoring on Tomlinson's 13-yard run off a pitch.
    He had scored on a head-over-heels leap from the 3 and a 27-yard run in the first quarter, giving the Chargers a 14-0 lead before six minutes had expired for the second straight week.
    But the Raiders, outgained 143-9 in the first quarter and yet to score an offensive touchdown, were still very much in the game late.
    They converted a fourth-and-12 to the 13 with 8½ minutes to play and pulled within a touchdown with 5:21 remaining, scoring on a pass from Daunte Culpepper to Zach Miller on fourth-and-goal at the 1, the 17th play of the 60-yard drive. On the drive, the Raiders also converted two third-and-7s and a third-and-14.
    But there is a difference between these Chargers and those who drifted through September.
    They actually had an early 10-0 lead on Kansas City before being betrayed by turnovers and missed opportunities.
    Yesterday at halftime, quarterback Philip Rivers told the team the close score was on him. Then he and the rest of the offense went out and put the game away. “Great teams finish these games,” Rivers said. “We did that a handful of games last year. We had the ball with a lead and we were able to finish it. That's what we did today.”


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