Final

Broncos 20

(7-6, 4-3 away)

Chargers 48

(11-2, 6-0 home)

Coverage: CBS

4:15 PM ET, December 10, 2006

Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA 

1 2 3 4 T
DEN 0 3 17 020
SD 14 14 0 2048

Top Performers

Passing: P. Rivers (SD) - 279 YDS, 2 TD

Rushing: T. Bell (DEN) - 17 CAR, 116 YDS

Receiving: A. Gates (SD) - 7 REC, 104 YDS, 2 TD

L.T.'s record romp helps Chargers clinch AFC West title

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- LaDainian Tomlinson had barely swept into the end zone and the record book when he was engulfed by the behemoths on his offensive line.

They hoisted him onto their shoulders and carried him toward the sideline, with Tomlinson holding the ball high in his right hand and waving his left index finger, a 48-20 win over the Denver Broncos and the AFC West title all wrapped up.

Single-Season Touchdowns
LaDainian Tomlinson
Tomlinson
San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson recorded three scoring runs against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, breaking the NFL record for most touchdowns in a season.
PlayerTeamSeasonTDs
LaDainian TomlinsonSD200629*
Shaun AlexanderSEA200528
Priest HolmesKC200327
Marshall FaulkSTL200026
Emmitt SmithDAL199525
Priest HolmesKC200224
John RigginsWAS198324
*through 13 games

With chants of "L.T.! L.T.!" and "MVP! MVP!" pouring from the stands, everyone got to celebrate Tomlinson's NFL-record 29th touchdown of the season.

Really, the star running back, who may be one of the more humble athletes in all pro sports, wouldn't have it any other way.

"Once I got over the pylon, my initial thought process was to bring every guy on the offensive unit over to share that moment," Tomlinson said. "When we're old and can't play this game anymore, them are the moments we are going to remember, that we'll be able to tell our kids, tell our grandchildren. We can talk about something special that we did. We made history today.

"There's no better feeling than to share it with the group of guys that's in that locker room."

With three touchdowns, including the final two in a 47-second span late in the game, Tomlinson broke Shaun Alexander's year-old record of 28.

The Chargers' seventh straight victory, coupled with Kansas City's 20-10 loss to Baltimore, gave San Diego (11-2) its second division title in three seasons.

The Chargers also grabbed the inside track to home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs when Indianapolis lost 44-17 at Jacksonville to fall into a tie with Baltimore at 10-3.

Most Rushing Touchdowns

San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson moved into third place for most rushing touchdowns in a season after scoring on runs of 1, 6 and 7 yards against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
PlayerTeamSeasonRush TDs
Shaun AlexanderSEA200527
Priest HolmesKC200327
LaDainian TomlinsonSD200626*
Emmitt SmithDAL199525
John RigginsWAS198324
*through 13 games

But this game was all about Tomlinson, who has become the MVP front-runner by scoring 26 touchdowns in the last nine games.

"He came into the huddle and said, 'I want all of you guys to join me in the end zone when I get it,' " right tackle Shane Olivea said.

Tomlinson was soon on the shoulders of 300-pound men.

"He is a king and he should be treated like one," left guard Kris Dielman said. "That is what a king gets."

Said fullback Lorenzo Neal: "I think he will go down in history as the best."

Coach Marty Schottenheimer has long contended that Tomlinson is the best running back he's ever seen. On Sunday, he amended that feeling.

"I believe he is the finest running back to ever wear an NFL uniform."

Tomlinson was greeted by several Broncos at midfield after the game. He ran to the far end zone to celebrate with fans, then ran back along the sideline, both arms upraised, while heading to the locker room.

Tomlinson scored on a 1-yard early in the second quarter, helping the Chargers to a 28-3 halftime lead. The Broncos, behind rookie quarterback Jay Cutler, scored 17 straight points in the third quarter to make it a game.

But, with the Chargers leading 34-20, Luis Castillo sacked Cutler on fourth-and-2, giving the Chargers the ball at the Denver 28.

Tomlinson tied Alexander's record of 28 when he scored on a 6-yard run with 3:57 left. He got hit at the 3, but spun right and scored.

Scouts Inc.'s take ...
For the second time in a month, San Diego showed Denver who's best. Denver lost to San Diego four weeks ago, a loss that triggered a four-game losing streak. On this day, San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson again stole the show, rushing for three TDs.

Even though Tomlinson went over the 100-yard mark again, it was TE Antonio Gates (above) who set the pace in the first half. Gates' ability to get involved early opened up San Diego's offense. Jay Cutler played better for Denver in his second start, but there is no spark to the offense, and the defense is starting to wear down.

The Chargers got the ball back when Shawne Merriman came from behind Cutler to cause and recover a fumble at the Denver 7. On the next play, with the crowd at full throat, Tomlinson ran to his left and scored.

The play was called power 50, which is designed to go inside.

"I could have guessed that that was the play we were going to call because it was Marty's favorite play," Tomlinson said. "It was fitting to break the record on Marty's favorite play."

But Tomlinson took the play outside and scored.

"Usually the coaching staff tells me if I go out there, I'm on my own."

Cornerback Darrent Williams dived and missed Tomlinson at the 6. Domonique Foxworth made a last desperate attempt to push Tomlinson out of bounds at the goal line.

"We have run that play so many times this year that we knew that the possibility of it succeeding was awfully high," right guard Mike Goff said.

"I had the chills there almost before the play, waiting around," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "It was that special looking at the stadium. There wasn't one person sitting down. It was just that magical feeling out there in the huddle. The linemen were excited. I tried to get L.T. to show some emotion but you know him, he wouldn't."

Asked where he plans to keep the ball, Tomlinson said with a laugh: "I don't know. I'll probably just throw it in a closet."

Denver (7-6) lost its fourth straight game.

"They beat us and they beat us squarely," Denver coach Mike Shanahan said after the Chargers swept the series for the first time since 1982. "I take my hat off to them."

Tomlinson, who has thrown for two TDs that don't count toward his record, also tied John Riggins' 1983 record of seven straight multi-touchdown games. He finished with 103 yards on 28 carries, his seventh straight 100-yard game.

Tomlinson scored his first touchdown of the day early in the second quarter, helping the Chargers take a 28-3 halftime lead. Antonio Gates caught two touchdown passes from Rivers, and Neal scored on a 4-yard trick play, perhaps a reward for all the blocking he does for Tomlinson.

But Cutler, looking more poised than in his debut a week earlier, threw touchdown passes of 28 and 11 yards to rookie tight end Tony Scheffler in a span of 48 seconds in the third quarter. The second TD came three plays after Chargers rookie Antonio Cromartie fumbled on a kickoff return after being hit by Patrick Chukwurah, with Denver's Louis Green recovering at the San Diego 27.

Then Jason Elam kicked a 33-yard field goal to make it 28-20.

Game notes


Tomlinson has scored 174 points this season, three shy of breaking Paul Hornung's single-season record of 176 set in 1960. ... He's the first back in San Diego history to have eight 100-yard rushing games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Team Stat Comparison

 
Denver
San Diego
1st Downs1922
3rd down efficiency
2-108-13
4th down efficiency
0-20-0
Total Yards328419
Yards per play5.37.0
Total Drives03
Passing166276
Comp-Att
17-3015-23
Yards per pass
5.512.0
Interceptions thrown
00
Sacks-Yards Lost
4-221-3
Rushing162143
Rushing Attempts
2836
Yards per rush
5.84.0
Penalties2-105-38
Turnovers11
Fumbles lost
11
Interceptions thrown
00
Possession29:1430:46

Passing Leaders

DENC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Cutler17/301886.3204-22
SDC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Rivers15/2327912.1201-3

Rushing Leaders

DENCARYDSAVGTDLG
Bell171166.8051
Bell10464.608
SDCARYDSAVGTDLG
Tomlinson281033.7317
Neal3206.7110

Receiving Leaders

DENRECYDSAVGTDLG
Scheffler36622.0228
Walker45213.0017
SDRECYDSAVGTDLG
Gates710414.9226
Jackson39531.7055

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERDENSD
TD10:10Antonio Gates 12 Yd Pass From Philip Rivers (Nate Kaeding Kick)
Drive: 4 plays, 44 yds, 2:17
07
TD14:55Lorenzo Neal 4 Yd Run (Nate Kaeding Kick)
Drive: 6 plays, 54 yds, 2:57
014
SECOND QUARTERDENSD
FG2:11Jason Elam 34 Yd
Drive: 5 plays, 59 yds, 2:16
314
TD4:45Ladainian Tomlinson 1 Yd Run (Nate Kaeding Kick)
Drive: 5 plays, 53 yds, 2:34
321
TD14:37Antonio Gates 7 Yd Pass From Philip Rivers (Nate Kaeding Kick)
Drive: 13 plays, 80 yds, 6:19
328
THIRD QUARTERDENSD
TD4:25Tony Scheffler 28 Yd Pass From Jay Cutler (Jason Elam Kick)
Drive: 7 plays, 71 yds, 3:26
1028
TD5:13Tony Scheffler 11 Yd Pass From Jay Cutler (Jason Elam Kick)
Drive: 3 plays, 27 yds, :40
1728
FG13:58Jason Elam 33 Yd
Drive: 10 plays, 78 yds, 5:08
2028
FOURTH QUARTERDENSD
FG2:08Nate Kaeding 34 Yd
Drive: 7 plays, 64 yds, 3:10
2031
FG6:45Nate Kaeding 35 Yd
Drive: 7 plays, 29 yds, 2:43
2034
TD11:03Ladainian Tomlinson 6 Yd Run (Nate Kaeding Kick)
Drive: 5 plays, 20 yds, 2:54
2041
TD11:50Ladainian Tomlinson 7 Yd Run (Nate Kaeding Kick)
Drive: 1 plays, 7 yds, :05
2048