Tomlinson Keeps Chargers on Higher Level
LaDainian Tomlinson set a franchise scoring record with a career-best four touchdowns rushing, and Philip Rivers passed for a career-high 334 yards and two more scores in the Chargers’ 48-19 victory Sunday over the host San Francisco 49ers.
Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson caught scoring passes from Rivers, who was practically perfect as the Chargers rolled to their first 4-1 start since 2002. Rivers completed 29 of 39 passes with a poise beyond his five career starts, easily picking apart an injury-riddled secondary on a defense that already has given up 194 points this season.
Tomlinson rushed for just 71 yards but surpassed Lance Alworth’s Chargers record with his 84th career touchdown in the first quarter. He added three more on similarly short runs, each punctuated with a ball flip and a wave.
His third score came 33 seconds before halftime with an astonishingly high leap over the goal-line pile.
“It was the highest vertical leap I have ever seen a guy take,” Chargers Coach Marty Schottenheimer said. “It was like he almost cleared everybody who was in front of him, blocking and defending. That was pretty impressive stuff, but those things with L.T. become a bit commonplace.”
The three-time Pro Bowl running back scored four touchdowns on three runs and a reception against the Jets last season, but had never rushed for four scores in a game.
Tomlinson thought nothing of his safety before his leaping touchdown.
“I think my lineman was standing up, so I knew I had to get over him,” Tomlinson said. “I recall seeing Walter Payton do that, and even Emmitt Smith -- guys I look up to. Each time I do it, my wife is killing me. She’s [saying], ‘Stop doing that.’ I’ll just wait and see what she says when I come home.”
San Diego scored 35 first-half points against the 49ers (2-4) and ended up equaling its highest-scoring performance since 1986. The Chargers also scored 48 against Buffalo last season.
Schottenheimer didn’t play it safe for a change, either: Rivers and Tomlinson stayed in the game with a 22-point lead in the final minutes, finally adding Tomlinson’s last touchdown with 4:20 left.
And San Diego seemed to need plenty of points for a change: In the 49ers’ fourth home game in five weeks, Alex Smith kept one of the NFL’s top defenses on its heels with a strong first half before fading.
Smith completed 20 of 31 passes for 214 yards for the 49ers, who were shut out in the second half.
Carolina 23, Baltimore 21 -- Jake Delhomme threw for a career-high 365 yards and two touchdowns, and the Panthers (4-2) slipped past the Ravens (4-2) at Baltimore for their fourth consecutive victory.
Steve Smith had eight catches for 189 yards and a touchdown, and John Kasay kicked three field goals for Carolina. The Panthers limited Baltimore to 80 yards rushing, the fourth consecutive game they limited the opposition to less than 100 yards on the ground.
It was enough to ruin a redemption scenario for Ravens backup quarterback Kyle Boller, who entered the game in the first quarter after Steve McNair sustained a sprained neck and a concussion while being sacked.
Boller completed 17 of 31 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns, two on deflected passes that Mark Clayton turned into scores.
“I had an opportunity to go out there and do some things but we came up short,” said Boller, who had been relegated to backup duty since the Ravens obtained McNair in an off-season trade with Tennessee. “All I can do is go out there and give my best and try and move the ball.”
X-rays and a CT scan on McNair’s neck, and an MRI on his head, were all negative.
Detroit 20, Buffalo 17 -- Roy Williams had 10 receptions for 161 yards and scored a touchdown, and Kevin Jones ran for a season-high 127 yards and a score to lead the Lions (1-5) over the Bills (2-4) at Detroit.