Hard-charging San Diego tied atop AFC West
SAN DIEGO - Motivation came in different forms for the San Diego Chargers yesterday, from Denver’s early afternoon loss to the little surprise LaDainian Tomlinson’s wife left in his locker.
Tomlinson’s career certainly isn’t finished and neither is the AFC West race.
Tomlinson ran for a season-high 96 yards and scored twice to continue his climb up the career rushing and scoring lists, and the Chargers beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 31-23, to pull into a tie atop the AFC West with the slumping Broncos.
Asked if something happened that gave him motivation, L.T. got a little emotional.
“I don’t know if I want to talk about it,’’ he said. “My wife is pregnant. I found out before the game. She left me a gift in my locker. It said, ‘Open immediately.’ I thought it was a necklace. It was a pregnancy test.’’
Fired up about fatherhood, Tomlinson passed Thurman Thomas and Franco Harris and moved into 12th place all time with 12,145 yards. His two touchdowns gave him 146 and moved him past Marcus Allen and into third place on the career list.
“It’s kind of surreal,’’ Tomlinson said of his latest accomplishment, noting that he has a ball autographed by Harris in his trophy case. “I grew up watching all those guys. It’s mind-boggling that I am third all time.’’
The score of the Broncos’ 27-17 loss at Washington - Denver’s third straight - was announced moments before kickoff in San Diego. The Chargers then went out and won their fourth straight. The Chargers and Broncos, both 6-3, play next Sunday in Denver.
Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb threw for a season-high 450 yards and two late touchdowns, completing 35 of 55 attempts. He was intercepted in the end zone by Antonio Cromartie on the game’s last play.
The Eagles (5-4) made it inside the Chargers’ 10-yard line three times only to have to settle for field goals by David Akers.
“When you have those opportunities to score we have to pound it in there,’’ McNabb said. “We definitely tried, but credit to them, they stopped us, obviously, from running the ball into the end zone.’’
Tomlinson scored on a 3-yard run to give the Chargers a 14-0 lead four minutes into the second quarter. Midway through the third quarter he chugged 20 yards through the right side of the Eagles’ defense to make it 21-6.
Philip Rivers threw TD passes of 20 yards to wide-open fullback Mike Tolbert in the first quarter and 20 yards to Legedu Naanee in the third quarter. Rivers was 20 of 25 for 231 yards.