Chargers soar into first

With their defense ailing, the Chargers offense bailed the team out. Again. Facing a Bronco's defense that had allowed the fewest points in the league, Philip Rivers & Co. topped their league-best scoring average by putting up 35 points, staging yet another come-from-behind victory.

"They beat us in our backyard, so I give them a lot of credit for finding a way to win," Denver head coach Mike Shanahan said. "They came back in the second half and did what they had to do."

Things weren't looking good for Rivers early, as the offense scored just seven first-half points. In the second half, Rivers first pass was a completion to Antonio Gates which actually lost a yard. His second throw was intercepted by Darrent Williams and returned 31 yards for a touchdown.

"I just made a good read on the ball," Williams began. "They've been pretty much throwing quick to my side the whole game, so I just sat on the route, and I jumped the route. He threw the ball, and I made a good play on it and ran it in for the touchdown. There wasn't anybody on that side to tackle me."

Things got better in a hurry, though. Rivers ended up completing over 73 percent of his passes and throwing for two touchdowns, a 51-yard pass to LaDainian Tomlinson and a five-yard toss to Vincent Jackson.

The story of the game, however, was L.T., who scored four more touchdowns in his quest to rewrite as many league records as possible. After spending the better part of a week answering questions about his inability to produce in Denver, Tomlinson produced the best response imaginable. Averaging over five yards per carry, he ran for over 100 yards for the fourth consecutive game and carried a seemingly unstoppable offense.

"I think he's the best there is," Rivers said. "There aren't many people who would argue with that, at least not anymore. He's unbelievable more than because he makes great runs. Every down he brings it, whether he's blocking or he's catching it, or running it. His value can't be measured for us. He's not the typical superstar, he's the teammate. He's the team favorite. It's hard when he gets as much attention as he gets to be the team favorite. To have every lineman love you, and a back-up defensive tackle to love you, it's that kind of team. He brings it every day."

Tomlinson's mile-high breakthrough could not have come at a better time, as the Chargers defense appears to be a shell of its former dominant self. Much of that has to do with the fact that Shawne Merriman and Luis Castillo, arguably the team's two best defenders, each missed his second consecutive game. They were sorely missed, as the defense registered just two sacks after averaging four per game before those two dropped out of the lineup.

While the defense continues to tumble down the rankings, one thing that remains consistent is its strong second-half play. Wade Phillips is the best defensive coordinator in the league when it comes to making adjustments at the half. It showed again this week, as his unit allowed just two field goals after intermission.

"The real credit goes to our players," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "It's so gratifying when you talk about certain principals that you have to apply if you want to be successful in anything. And they go do it. The last time I won here I was with the Redskins. There are a lot of people that come to this place and lose. I can't take any personal satisfaction out of winning. Just to see the way that group of men went about the task, particularly in the second half, and their efforts were rewarded."

As fun as these come-from-behind wins are – the Chargers are now the only team in history to overcome deficits of seventeen points or more in consecutive weeks – the team would prefer to jump out in front and stay there. Playing the Raiders next week should help bring that wish to fruition.

But before all the talk of Raider week can commence in earnest, it is important to fully appreciate the magnitude of the win in Denver. The Chargers now have sole possession of first place in the AFC West and control their own destiny in their push to take back the division crown.

Now Chargers players will truly have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving: an 8-2 record and the opportunity to watch the Broncos and Chiefs fight to keep pace on Turkey Day.


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