Bolts Buck Broncos

The Chargers moved one step closer to locking up the AFC's No. 3 seed Monday night, dominating the Denver Broncos in a 23-3 rout. LaDainian Tomlinson surpassed Pittsburgh's Willie Parker for the NFL rushing lead with a 107-yard effort, while Shaun Phillips & Co. racked up three turnovers and four sacks.

The Chargers, who have won nine of 11, improved to 10-5 on the year behind LaDainian Tomlinson's fourth consecutive 100-yard game and an efficient Philip Rivers, who was 17-of-25 for 189 yards with one touchdown.

Chris Chambers sealed the win after hauling in a 14-yard touchdown catch from Rivers with 8:03 left in the third. Nate Kaeding added three field goals, all in the first half.

Despite a 35-yard Glenn Martinez kickoff return that started the Broncos at their 47-yard line, it was the Bolts who fired out of the gate, scoring on four of their first five possessions.

The defense set the tone early. After the Broncos took their opening drive to the San Diego 18-yard line, Luis Castillo got to Jay Cutler and stripped him. Shawne Merriman recovered to tame the threat.

The Chargers took over and put up three points on Kaeding's 40-yard field goal after a 10-play drive that ate up 5:10. The Chargers owned the time of possession, 36:43 to Denver's 23:17.

The Chargers stifling pressure, coupled with two Denver penalties (a false start and a 5-yard face mask), forced the Broncos to go three-and-out on their next possession. It would be that kind of a night for Coach Mike Shanahan and his team.

The Chargers, starting at the Denver 44 after an abysmal 17-yard Paul Ernster punt, seized the opportunity to corral the Broncos. After back-to-back 1-yard runs by Tomlinson, Rivers hit Chambers deep for a 30-yard reception, putting the Chargers at the Denver 12.

After a holding penalty that backed up the Chargers and a dump over the middle to LT, the Bolts were in danger of squandering great field position and momentum. But the reigning league MVP Tomlinson burst up the middle for a 17-yard score, giving the Bolts an early 10-0 lead.

Kaeding took over the scoring duties for the Bolts for the remainer of the half. A 23-yard field goal at 3:45 in the second put the Bolts up, 13-0.

The Broncos went three-and-out on their next possession and only managed to trim a 1:12 off the clock. The Chargers got the ball back and drove 54 yards to the Denver 11, as Tomlinson watched from the bench. Kaeding tacked on his third and final field goal of the night as the first half expired. The Bolts took a 16-0 lead to the locker room.

The Chargers picked up where they left off, driving 84 yard on 11 plays to set up a 14-yard Chambers touchdown to ice the game. The Chargers chewed up seven minutes of the clock, concluding Rivers' and Tomlinson's nights.

The Broncos only score of the evening, a 23-yard Jason Elam field goal, came off of backup Billy Volek's fumble at the San Diego 7. The defense clamped down, though, and held the Broncos to a futile 2 yards after the turnover.

With that, embattled coach Norv Turner pulled most of his starters and let the lost Michael Turner and diminutive Darren Sprouls clean up. The teams would trade possessions in the fourth, as Rivers and Cutler exchanged some not too jolly words for the remainder of the blowout.

The Chargers won the turnover battled again, 3-1, while holding Cutler to 14 of 32 passing for 155 yards and two picks. Denver could only manage to rack up 225 yards of total offense.

The Chargers travel to Oakland next weekend to take on Lane Kifflin and the Raiders, where they look to continue their win streak, improve to 5-1 in the division and secure the No. 3 playoff seed.

Rookie JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, will get the starting nod for the Raiders.

John Connelly is a guest columninst at He leads the sports writing department at XK San Diego.

BoltsReport Top Stories