Chargers win, clinch AFC West division

The numbers on the field were barely visible in worse than wintery conditions as the game began. Minus ten with the wind chill factor. The Chargers pounded the ball on the ground and came away with a 21-0 victory, their first shutout since 1993. A Denver Broncos loss to Kansas City gave San Diego the division crown, the Bolts first AFC West title since 1994.

After the Chargers stopped the Browns on their opening drive, the punted ball from Derrick Frost hit Drayton Florence in the leg and the Browns recovered the ball at the San Diego five yard line. On the next play, Luke McCown rolled out to his right and fired into the end zone – a pass that went directly into linebacker Donnie Edwards' waiting arms.

After the interception, a roughing the kicker penalty on Sherrod Coates extended the Chargers drive. LaDainian Tomlinson had runs of 11 and 20 yards to put the Bolts deep in Cleveland territory. Tomlinson ended the drive with a one yard touchdown run to give the Chargers the early 7-0 lead.

Drew Brees hit a wide open Antonio Gates for a 72 yard touchdown pass with just over two minutes to go in the second quarter to give the Chargers a 14-0 lead. Gates had lined up as the fullback and went uncovered coming out of the backfield.

Florence recovered an onside kick to open the second half on the Cleveland 42. The used a variety of backs, Tomlinson, Lorenzo Neal, Jesse Chatman and even Brees to get the ball inside the Cleveland ten. Without throwing a pass, the Bolts eventually pushed it in the end zone with Tomlinson getting the score, his second of the day.

McCown hit Dennis Northcutt 39 yards down the field with Quentin Jammer interfering Northcutt the whole way. Northcutt made the grab at the San Diego 24. Lee Suggs added a seven yard gain and Terrence Kiel was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty to give Cleveland the ball inside the ten. The Chargers defense held its own – stopping Cleveland on the next four downs to keep them out of the end zone. It was the second time in the game that they kept the Browns off the scoreboard.

It was no surprise that the running game would be essential and Cleveland turned to Lee Suggs on their second drive of the game. Suggs gained forty yards on eight carries, including a 26-yard run to setup a Phil Dawson 39-yard field goal attempt. Dawson shanked the kick wide right with the wind kicking the ball even further off course.

Lightning Quicks:

The last time the Chargers shutout a team was in 1993 when they beat the Colts 31-0.

San Diego Chargers' safety Clinton Hart was injured in the first quarter in their game against the Browns, hurting an ankle. He returned to the game shortly thereafter.

No other injuries were immediately reported from the Chargers'sideline.

Malcom Floyd saw action on the Chargers first drive. A pass went his way but was slightly overthrown by Brees. It was the only pass sent his way as the Chargers threw the ball just six times on the day.


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