Athletes making plays

The Chargers offense staked its claim as the best in the NFL – and the defense wasn't too shabby either. It was setup by a team that boasts a lot of athletes – perhaps the most ever assembled.

With 16 rushing touchdowns this season, Tomlinson is only 11 touchdowns shy of Priest Holmes' NFL single-season record of 27 touchdowns, set in 2003. LT is second in the NFL in touchdowns, trailing league-leader Shaun Alexander of Seattle, who has 19. Tomlinson and Alexander share a unique distinction, as they are the only two players in NFL history to score at least 15 touchdowns in four consecutive seasons. Tomlinson has done it the last four seasons (2002-05) and Alexander has done it the last five seasons (2001-05).

Michael Turner's eight-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was the first of his two-year career.

"He has been terrific ever since we have had him," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "I think everyone enjoys watching Michael run because of his style. He swats people around like they are a nuisance. He keeps rumbling and stumbling forward. It is fun to watch him play."

Chargers wide receiver Keenan McCardell comes into the game needing only 35 yards to overtake Alworth for 21st place on the NFL's all-time receiving yardage list. He passed him late in the second quarter on a 26-yard pass. McCardell ended the day with six receptions for 88 yards with a touchdown. McCardell now has 794 catches, 13th on the NFL's all-time list, 20 behind Henry Ellard who ranks 12th.

Shawne Merriman leads the team and he leads all NFL rookies with seven sacks. Merriman moved into the starting lineup before the Chargers Oct. 23 game at Philadelphia and in the last four games has combined for six sacks, 23 tackles and a forced fumble. He led the Bolts in tackles (nine) in the game against the New York Jets on Nov. 6. He has now recorded a sack in four straight games.

"I am out there going full throttle," Merriman said of his performance and revved up celebration after his first quarter sack. It is the second time this year that Merriman has recorded a multiple-sack game.

With six sacks on Sunday, San Diego's defense has 33 sacks this season, four more than its entire total in 2004. The Chargers are on pace for 52 sacks this season, a total that hasn't been reached in San Diego since the 1992 squad racked up 51 sacks.

The Chargers entered the game as the NFL's top-ranked rushing defense. The unit is allowing only 78.1 yards per game after allowing just 65 on Sunday. Thirty of the 65 yards came on the legs of J.P. Losman. The Chargers have held two teams, Oakland (39) and Philadelphia (24) to less than 40 yards on the ground. In the last five games, opponents are averaging only 62.4 yards per game on the ground against the Chargers defense.

"Actions speak louder than words," Merriman said in response to Willis McGahee's claim as the best running back and the Chargers stout run defense that held him to 39 yards on ten carries.

"It was enjoyable," added Tomlinson. "It is hard to run on our defense. I knew Willis was going to have a tough time."

Matt Wilhelm intercepted a pass in the third quarter, his first of the season and second of his career. Wilhelm intercepted a pass on January 2, 2005 in the season finale against Kansas City.

Only 16 of Scifres' 40 punts have been returned this season. Among punters with at least 39 attempts this season, only three have had fewer than 16 returned against them.

Marty Schottenheimer faced the Buffalo Bills for the 13th time in his career on Sunday. He is 8-5 against Buffalo, though he had never faced Bills Head Coach Mike Mularkey.

Schottenheimer faced the Bills one time previously as San Diego's head coach, dropping a 20-13 decision at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2002. With 183 career wins, Schottenheimer is the NFL's winningest active coach. He is the eighth-winningest coach of all-time and he needs just three more wins to move into a tie with Chuck Knox (186 wins) for seventh place on the all-time list.


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