Chargers Cro'-ral Texans, 35-10

San Diegans have reason to smile for the first time all week. The Chargers routed the Houston Texans, 35-10, and brought home a third consecutive victory. Chris Chambers made a pair of big plays -- a 21-yard grab and a 14-yard score -- but was outdone by Antonio Cromartie, who had two picks and two touchdowns to spark the win.

The Houston Texans were so concerned about bottling up LaDainian Tomlinson that they forgot to cover Antonio Gates. The three-time All Pro caught three passes: a 49-yard touchdown, a 31-yard touchdown and a 12-yard pickup on third-and-9. He passed Anthony Miller for sixth place on the franchise's all-time receiving touchdowns list (39).

L.T. got his yards, too. He finished with 90 yards on 17 carries (5.3 yards per carry), including a 20-yard burst that set up Gates' second touchdown.

"This team has a lot of character," Tomlinson said. "That has been evident over the last few games. The thing that stands out in my mind is the way we've played. We could have lost confidence after our slow start. Still, we can't pat ourselves on the back because we're 4-3 and we've won three in a row. We dug ourselves a hole early on and now we got to fight out way out of it."

The skill players made it an easy day for Philip Rivers. After struggling at home early in the season, Rivers bounced back to complete 7-of-11 passes for 130 yards and three touchdowns. Those scores were his only touchdown passes at Qualcomm Stadium all season. It was the second time this year he has thrown for three touchdowns in a game and the first time since week three.

Rivers shared the credit for Sunday's win with the Arizona Cardinals.

"We owe a lot of appreciation to the Cardinals for opening their facilities," Rivers said. "They cleared out their lockers for us and made us feel like we were practicing at our place."

The defense deserves its share of the credit for Sunday's win after coming up with four interceptions, one of which was returned by Antonio Cromartie 70 yards for the score. It was Cromartie's second touchdown of the day after he recovered a botched snap on a punt attempt for his first career score.

Stephen Cooper and Eric Weddle each chipped in his first interception of the season, although neither looked as good with the ball in his hands as Cromartie. In fact, Cromartie looked smooth enough to push for Darren Sproles' job as the starting kick returner.

"(Cromartie) asked me about that earlier today," Norv Turner said. "There are some things he can do with the ball in his hands. But he's a young guy and needs to focus in on defense. Not that he's struggling on defense, because he's played very well. He just hasn't played a lot of football."

It sure didn't look that way Sunday, when Cromartie appeared to be a savvy veteran and the Texans looked like an expansion team all over again.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. He has followed the Chargers for more than 14 years and covered the team since 2003.

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