Chargers stay on track

It turns out Marty Ball isn't dead after all. It's a good thing too, because San Diego was forced to go old-school in its 20-9 victory over Kansas City. With Philip Rivers struggling to find his rhythm, San Diego ran the ball 15 more times than it threw it, and had tremendous success doing so.

Even with Kansas City loading up to stop the run, LaDainian Tomlinson & Co. churned out 265 rushing yards. Tomlinson spearheaded that attack, accounting for 199 yards and two scores. What started as a showdown between the league's two best backs quickly became a showcase of the league's premiere player.

"We wanted to come out and prove we wan play any game we need to play," said Tomlinson. "We didn't throw the ball well but we ran it well. That is a sign of coming off the ball and being physical."

Several Chargers not wearing No. 21 had big games, too. Most notable in that category is Vincent Jackson, who has taken Eric Parker's place as the team's most underrated player. Jackson is a dominant blocker, which he proved again by leading Tomlinson down the sideline on his 85-yard touchdown romp. He's also a big play waiting to happen, as evidenced by his 46-yard catch late in the fourth quarter.

The defense deserves its share of praise as well. San Diego sacked Trent Green six times and kept Kansas City out of the end zone, the first time the defense has managed that feat since week one. Leading the charge was former-Chief Donnie Edwards, who finished with six tackles, a sack and an interception.

But, as always, Tomlinson stole the majority of the headlines. He broke the league's single-season scoring record (180 points); he set a record for most consecutive multiple-touchdown games (eight); and set a new mark for rushing touchdowns in a season (28).

The only disappointment for San Diego was letting Kansas City defensive end Tamba Hali have a big day. Hali had called the Chargers a finesse team after the two squads met earlier this season, so San Diego was eager to make the rookie eat his words. Instead, Hali had his biggest game of the season, registering a sack and snagging his first career interception.

"We thrive on that kind of stuff," linebacker Shawne Merriman noted. "We wanted to say a lot with our pads."

Other than that hiccup, things were mostly sunny in San Diego. Sure, Rivers struggled, as his career-low 12.4 passer rating would attest, but he has shown the ability to bounce back from adversity in the past. Rather than focus on the poor outing, Rivers – along with the rest of the Chargers – will focus on maintaining the surge toward homefield advantage.

"I never really got in sync," said Rivers. "The passing game wasn't very good. I have to be throwing it well and I wasn't but we won and that was most important. The ultimate goal is to win every time we go out there and we accomplished that."

San Diego has now won eight consecutive games, the longest winning streak in the league, and controls its own destiny in its quest for the top seed in the conference. If the team can extend that winning streak to 13 – a lucky number, in this instance – it will take home the first Super Bowl triumph in franchise history.


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