Newfound Running Game Gives Opponents Fits

Everyone with the Chargers knew they had a dynamite passing attack behind Philip Rivers. But who knew their ground attack could be just as lethal?

The Chargers proved they are more than a high-flying offense when cranking out a season-high 203 rushing yards Sunday. They were able to milk the clock and a big lead by turning to their running backs.

"It's the most complete game we've played," coach Norv Turner said. "It was nice to be in that situation in the fourth quarter that we've talked about."

Turner was hoping for just that sort of a scenario before the 32-3 demolition of Denver.

"What I'd love to do is get in a game where we have that type of lead where we can just grind on them and pound and wear someone down," Turner said. "We were able to do that, and our offensive line appreciates it, and our backs appreciate it, and our defense appreciates it. I think that was good."

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES


QB Philip Rivers
Jaime Squire/Getty
--QB Philip Rivers was efficient, completing 17 of 22 passes for 145 yards and a score. He missed on just one of 14 pass attempts in the first half. Rivers was asked to basically manage the game instead of win it -- a nice change of pace for the Chargers.

--WR Vincent Jackson saw his numbers go up after having only a single reception the previous week. He caught four passes for a team-high 56 yards with a long of 23.

--WR Malcom Floyd tied Jackson for team-honors with four catches for 38 yards. Floyd and Jackson weren't needed much, as the team turned to the running game.

--TE Antonio Gates had a long of 24 yards as he nearly fought his way in for a touchdown after a pitch to LaDainian Tomlinson, then a lateral to Philip Rivers, then a heave to Gates. He finished with three catches for 41 yards.

--WR Legedu Naanee continues to see the field more after the team released Chris Chambers. Naanee had the team's lone scoring catch, and it marked the second straight week he has caught a Philip Rivers touchdown pass.

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson got to carry the ball 20 times, and he cranked out 73 yards and a score. He took a shot in the ribs during the game and underwent an X-ray after the game, but the team said he is fine. Tomlinson is running the best he has all season.

--OLB Shaun Phillips had one of the game's biggest plays when he ended the Broncos' first drive in the end zone by bursting around the left side and stripping QB Chris Simms of the ball; the Chargers recovered. Phillips had three tackles and a sack.

--DB Steve Gregory was all over the field Sunday, recovering two fumbles in the red zone to kill the Broncos' chances. Since he was inserted as the nickel back, the secondary has taken on a more ball-hawking tone. Gregory is playing well.

--ILB Kevin Burnett had another solid game, his second straight after missing three games with a knee injury. He had two sacks, a team-high seven tackles and two quarterback hits. Burnett was the team's lone free agent signing of significance in the offseason.

--ILB Stephen Cooper has been playing on both sides since the return of Kevin Burnett and the improved play of Brandon Siler. Cooper, who is among the team's defensive leaders, had four tackles and a pass defensed.

--FS Eric Weddle has been playing well of late. He had six tackles, one for a loss, and a quarterback hit. He doesn't stand tall, but he hits like a much bigger man. Weddle has played well during the team's winning streak.

--RB Mike Tolbert continues to prove he can do more than block and play special teams. In his most extended time as a running back this season, Tolbert had 58 yards on seven carries, which included a touchdown and a long of 32.

--RT Jeromey Clary, who suffered a left ankle injury Sunday, was placed on injured reserve two days later.

--RT Jon Runyan, a longtime Eagle who has been a free agent all season, signed with the Chargers. Runyan, 36, had microfracture surgery on his knee last February.


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