The Chiefs were unable to do Sunday what the rest of the NFL hasn’t been able to do either. That’s stop LaDainian Tomlinson.
Tomlinson has torched the league all season long, and it wasn’t going to stop against the team that called San Diego “soft” after a week 7 win.
San Diego managed to get revenge this week dismantling the Chiefs 20-9 behind a record-breaking performance from its running back. Tomlinson ran for 199 yards and two touchdowns upping his league-leading total to 1,626 yards for the season. His first touchdown gave the Chargers a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, and extended his single-season touchdown record to 31. The 15-yard scoring scamper on the team’s opening drive gave Tomlinson 180 points on the season, breaking Paul Hornung’s 46-year-old record of 176.
The Chiefs looked to be on the right track following that score. They were able to bring the score to 7-3 on a Lawrence Tynes 45-yard field goal. Then, something weird happened and it was indicative of the two team’s seasons.
Kansas City’s Bernard Pollard blocked a Mike Scifres punt. Chiefs backup running back Derrick Ross fumbled the recovery allowing David Binn to recover for the Chargers and retain possession at their own 15. On the next play, Tomlinson exploded off left tackle for an 85-yard touchdown run – the longest in his career – giving the Chargers a 14-3 lead.
“It was absolutely perfect,” Tomlinson said. “I don’t know if you can draw it any better. Once I saw the crease, and the safety took a bad angle, I felt like I was running track again. … I felt like I could go all the way.”
Tomlinson easily won the battle between the top two running backs in the AFC. His 199 yards was far more impressive than Larry Johnson’s 84 yards on 19 carries. Tomlinson rushed for over 100 yards for the eighth straight time this season. His multi-touchdown game was also his eighth straight, breaking the record he held with John Riggins. During the game, Tomlinson broke or extended three different records.
“It’s happening so much now, I can’t keep up anymore. To be honest, I don’t want to keep up. I just keep rolling.”
San Diego already had the AFC West wrapped up going into the contest, but they extended their winning streak to eight games and kept their hopes alive for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They haven’t lost since Chiefs rookie defensive end Tamba Hali called them a “finesse team” after a 30-27 win eight weeks ago at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs never seemed to be in the game after the 85-yard run by Tomlinson. Kansas City could probably point to an earlier loss it suffered during the week. The Chiefs lost the only team owner it ever knew with the death of Lamar Hunt Wednesday. The team wore “LH” stickers on their helmets and had a moment of silence in memory of Hunt.
Kansas City fell to 7-7 hindering their playoff chances.