Chargers healthy returns

San Diego Chargers' running back LaDainian Tomlinson is officially healthy. If there was any question, look at his season high 37 carries. Only once before has Tomlinson had more carries in a game, ironically against Oakland back in October of 2002.

"LT is running great and you just want to keep feeding him the ball," said quarterback Drew Brees.

Tomlinson's sly responses during the week spoke of playing possum. He said he would know how he felt when he got on the field and started to take some bumps. LaDainian Tomlinson knew he was feeling good.

It became evident that Tomlinson was back in the first quarter. He was making vintage cuts and stopping and starting without notice. Tomlinson was a broken tackle away on several occasions from breaking one.

"It was big for me," he said of his return to form.

Fourteen of his carries gained six yards or more but none went more than 16 yards. He was simply consistent in his ability to get into the secondary but lacked that one move that usually enables him to take it to the house.

"I saw cuts that were vintage LT," Schottenheimer said of his star back. "I have seen clear visual evidence of him making the cuts that we are accustomed to seeing."

And the Raiders have seen it too often.

In Tomlinson's fourth-career game at the Network Associates Coliseum, he gained 164 yards on 37 carries with a touchdown. He has averaged 143 yards per game and scored four touchdowns, including an effort last season where he carried 28 times for 187 yards and a 55-yard scoring run.

For a player who has been limited with his touches over the last few games, it would almost seem like he was overworked.

"That is why they pay me the big money," Tomlinson shrugged.

After the game, Tomlinson said he was at 90-95 percent, which shows how valuable he is even without all of his tools available to him. A groin injury has hampered him since the Tennessee game. The past few games he has played through pain but no pain found him on Sunday.

Instead, Tomlinson merely found his game. With Brees maintaining consistency with his ball security and Antonio Gates continuing his quest to become the best Charger receiver ever, Tomlinson was able to find holes behind his line and burst through them before they closed.

Prior to the bye week, Tomlinson was hard pressed to make it through the gate before the door was slammed shut.

"We felt confident that he was much improved," Schottenheimer said. "I am delighted that he is back and feeling much better."

The offensive line had one of their best days. They pulled more on Sunday, a sign that Tomlinson could get to the edge and cut inside when needed. Before the bye week, Tomlinson's runs had been restrained to inside the tackles to limit movement and pain on his groin.

The difference when the playbook is open is amazing. Tomlinson is back and just in time for the stretch run.

Lightning Quicks:

Coincidentally, not only is Tomlinson healthy but the team reported no injuries after the game -- a clean bill of health all-around.

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