Finding their game

The San Diego Chargers will try and do something they have not accomplished in Denver - establish a running game.

It could be a historic Sunday when the Chargers travel to Denver to face the Broncos, with sole possession of the AFC West at stake.

The Chargers will be aiming for a rare victory in Colorado, and LaDainian Tomlinson could help them by breaking an impressive NFL record.

Tomlinson, the NFL's touchdown machine, needs two more scores to reach 100. If he does it Sunday, the milestone will be reached in his 89th game. The record is shared by Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith; both did it in 93 games.

While Smith was always a favorite of Tomlinson's when growing up in Texas, Brown -- in Tomlinson's eyes -- is in a class by himself.

"Well, I admire runners because that's what I do and I think there's an art to it," said Tomlinson, the league-leader with 16 touchdowns. "There are no two runners that are alike, pretty much. Every guy has his own style.

"So in the course of being a young man, you look at all the different types of runners that have come before you, and some stick out more than others. You know, Jim Brown was obviously a guy that really stuck out, not only because of his size and strength, but the way he was able to move just because he is a big guy. He was able to move in and out of the hole, cutting, and it was just awesome to see him run."

But can the Chargers move the ball on the ground against the Broncos like they are accustomed? History, particularly where it involves Tomlinson, says otherwise.

Even if he has rushed for 100 yards in three straight games.

Tomlinson has never won at Invesco Field and has never enjoyed a big day statistically. In five outings there, he has averaged 52.8 yards rushing and a 3.4-yard average. He has not scored a touchdown in four of the five games.

But the Broncos are expecting Tomlinson, the NFL's second-leading rusher, to deliver his best shot on Sunday. Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey has watched too much film to think otherwise.

"He shows up every week and produces, scoring a lot of touchdowns," Bailey said. "He's having a great year rushing and catching the football. He's having a great year."

But for the Chargers to have a great chance Sunday, they need to stay competitive early so not to be forced into having to pass. That would give the Broncos a heavy dose of Tomlinson, although their run defense has been stout all year.

Denver is allowing but 86.2 rushing yards a game and have been hit for but two rushing touchdowns -- total.

"Well, they take me out of the game," Tomlinson said of his sub-par games against the Broncos. "I haven't had the ball much in Denver. They end up taking me out of the game, whether we get behind and we're not running the ball much. That's been the case."

A case could be made that Tomlinson is the NFL's MVP. He gets to prove it Sunday, if he can direct the Chargers to a rare victory at Denver.


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