Victory at Mile High
At 7-2, the Chargers were setting their sights on the Chiefs. Their next test was on the road to face Denver, who were on a two-game winning streak. Mike Shanahan knew that a home win would see his team atop the AFC West. Neither team wanted to lose, especially with the Chiefs just two games behind.
The game stats were very even. Jake Plummer was 13-of-28 for 183 yards and a passing touchdown. Rivers went 19-of-26 for 222 yards and two touchdowns. San Diego once again retreated to the locker room at halftime trailing by a score.
Denver running back Mike Bell had 20 carries for 10 cents short of a buck. The 23-year-old had his second two-touchdown day of the season but it wasn’t Bell who stole headlines. Playcallers were running out of superlatives for a football player hellbent on breaking records and breaking defenses.
The Chargers’ elite rusher had 20 carries for 105 yards, three touchdowns and a touchdown reception. A 35-27 victory moved the Bolts to 8-2.
Tomlinson had scored an NFL-record 19 touchdowns in his last six games and reached 100 TDs in his 89th game, four fewer than it took Hall of Famer Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith. He had 102 TDs and topped 1,000 yards rushing for the sixth straight season. (via ESPN.com)
Raiding in Oakland
The Raiders were the next team to fall to the Chargers and their merciless offense by a score of 21-14. Art Shell‘s defense held Rivers to 133 yards and a touchdown. By this stage of the season, it was obvious where the Chargers were going to inflict the damage. Their running game was simply sublime.
There was no letting up for Tomlinson as he averaged 5.74 yards per attempt, finishing with 109 yards and two touchdowns. Bolt Beat writer Travis Wakeman goes on to explain how Tomlinson also threw a touchdown pass.
“With less than 10 minutes to play and the ball at the Raiders’ 19-yard line, Rivers pitched the ball back to Tomlinson who then sailed a pass to Antonio Gates into the end zone for the tying score. The Chargers would get the ball back after a forcing a three-and-out and after a six-play, 67-yard drive, Tomlinson ran in a 10-yard touchdown.”
Raiders’ quarterback Aaron Brooks was sacked seven times by the Chargers in the Week 1 opener. Brooks had an easier time on home soil, he was sacked five times for a total loss of 26 yards. Shaun Phillips had 1.5 of those sacks. At 9-2 it was hard to dismiss the Chargers as Super Bowl contenders.
In part three of the Chargers’ 2006 season, we will look at the final four regular-season games before heading to the playoffs.