Chargers' success more than just Tomlinson

San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith stood just outside the locker room, waiting for his players to arrive. He offered a handshake and congratulations to each player after their division clinching win on Sunday. The Bolts are the only AFC team that has earned a playoff berth.

While LaDainian Tomlinson moved into a tie for 12th place on the all-time touchdown list with 109 (Barry Sanders), there were plenty of other contributions.

Lost in the media shuffle of another Tomlinson highlight reel were the performances of Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson. And that doesn't even include the defense.

The locker room buzz, however, continued to surround Tomlinson.

"Superman is like 26 touchdowns a year," Gates marveled. "He is at 29 with three games left. It is scary."

Philip Rivers had a perfect quarterback of 158.3 in the first half. He completed 11-of-13 for 180 yards with two touchdowns over the first two quarters.

They are the only team in the league with at least 1,900 yards rushing and 2,800 yards passing.

Rivers' night ended with 279 yards passing, completing 15-of-23 with a quarterback rating of 136.0.

Vincent Jackson caught a 35-yard pass in the first quarter, the longest reception of his career. His previous best was a 33-yard catch on October 15 at San Francisco. Jackson topped the mark with a 55-yard reception to start the fourth quarter. It was more yards than San Diego collected the entire third quarter (39).

"I know we have a lot of weapons in our offense and I can't be selfish about my stats," Jackson said. "Some games you get no balls thrown at you and sometimes you get a lot. My job is just to go out there every Sunday and be ready to catch some balls."

Jackson set a new career-high in receiving yards with 95 on three receptions.

Antonio Gates caught his first career touchdown against Denver on Sunday. He would catch a second touchdown pass in the second quarter, his first multi-touchdown game of the year. His last multi-touchdown game came on October 30, 2005 versus the Kansas City Chiefs where he caught three touchdowns. He has snared eight touchdowns this year and one in three straight games.

"Whenever you have those kind of matchups you have to take advantage of it, and Gates isn't going to drop the ball when it's around him," Rivers explained of throwing a jump ball for Gates' second touchdown. Gates was in one-on-one coverage with safety John Lynch. "I just had to put it out there and give him the chance."

The tight end caught seven passes for 104 yards, surpassing the 100-yard plateau for the first time this year. He had four 100-yard games in 2005, the last time coming on December 11 last season against Miami.

Lorenzo Neal scored his sixth career rushing touchdown in the first quarter Sunday. It was his first rushing touchdown since September 28, 2003 and only his second as a Charger.

"We wanted him to get one," a grinning Tomlinson said. "It was great for him."

"It's a play that Coach Cam has been working on for 13 weeks now," Neal said of his score on the "Bum-arooskie" where he took the ball between his legs from Rivers.

Neal gained 19 yards on the ground, a season-high. It was his highest total since rushing for 22 yards on seven carries on October 19, 2003.

Andrew Pinnock had a 15-yard run in the second quarter, the longest run in his four-year career. His previous long had been nine yards, coming on January 2, 2005 against the Kansas City Chiefs with Tomlinson rested for the playoff run.

The 48 points put up by the San Diego Chargers was the most allowed by a Mike Shanahan coached team in the regular season.

"San Diego stepped up and played and coached a better game than we did," said Shanahan.

The Bolts have scored at least 20 points in all but one game this season, including scoring over 30 seven times and over 40 four times.

The Chargers' four 40-point games are tied for the second-most in a season in team history. In 1960 they scored 40 points or more in five games.

"I was just trying to have one more point on the board than them at the end of the game," said Schottenheimer. "We got into a rhythm and were able to move the ball today."

"We come in to every game with the mindset that we have to score 40," Rivers said. "It's not that we don't think that our defense isn't going to stop them. It's just the way our offense thinks. Then our defense is saying, ‘You guys only need seven (points), because we're going to shut them out.' We both have that approach."

The Chargers, the NFL's highest scoring team, tied the Chicago Bears (318-150) for the NFL's greatest point differential, outscoring their opponents by 168 points (425 to 257).

At 11-2, the Chargers are off to their best start since 1961 when the team started 11-0 and finished 12-2. The Bolts have won seven in a row, the NFL's longest current winning streak and the Chargers' longest since 2004 when the team won eight in a row.

The Chargers have won the AFC West twice in the last three years and are winners of four of their last six against the Broncos.

As linebacker Carlos Polk walked into locker room after the game he yelled, "How bout them Chargers" to the crowd of reporters on hand.

It is the 13th time that Marty Schottenheimer has coached a team into the playoffs. He currently sits third in playoff appearances, behind Don Shula (19) and Tom Landry (18).

Schottenheimer earned win number 202, including the playoffs, putting him in sole possession of sixth place on the league's all-time wins list. Schottenheimer has won 197 regular-season games as an NFL head coach. He has had 15 winning seasons in his coaching career. Schottenheimer's 44 regular-season wins with the Chargers are the fourth-most in team history behind Sid Gillman (86), Don Coryell (69) and Bobby Ross (47).

The Chargers are 6-0 at home for the first time since 1979. he Chargers' best-ever home record for a season was a 7-0 mark in 1963. The Chargers and Indianapolis (6-0) are the only teams in the league still undefeated at home.


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