Yesterday the Chargers received a gift in the form of a home game against the Detroit Lions. It was an early Christmas present the Bolts sorely needed as injuries to several key players had made the team vulnerable. Thanks to the running of LaDainian Tomlinson and the absolute atrocity that is the Lions defense, the Chargers jumped out to a 34-7 halftime lead and were able to rest most of their starters in the second half, as they cruised to a 51-14 win.
In only two quarters of action, Tomlinson logged 116 yards on 15 carries (a 7.7 yard average) and two touchdowns. Those two scores were significant however because they put him past Jim Brown for sixth place on the all-time touchdowns list. He now has 127 scores in just seven seasons. Although it is a different time and football has changed a great deal, it’s significant to note that Brown scored those touchdowns over a nine-year career.
Tomlinson also went over 1,200 yards on the season. That makes him one of only two players (Eric Dickerson is the other) to gain more than 1,200 yards in each of his first seven years in the league. Despite his sluggish start while the Chargers struggled, LT currently has 1,311 rushing yards, just six behind Willie Parker for the NFL lead. His 14 rushing touchdowns lead the league, and he’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry. So much for the speculation that he’s struggling to maintain his form.
LT has jump-started the recent run by the Chargers in which they’ve won four straight and eight of 10. They won’t have to leave the state of California until after the opening round of the playoffs (provided they win) and have the inside track at the No. 3 seed in the AFC. Yesterday’s win clinched San Diego’s second straight AFC West title, despite having the albatross that is Norv Turner as their head coach. That’s significant because it means they wouldn’t have to face the Patriots until the AFC title game if they keep winning.
Tomlinson is also incredibly confident in his teammates and coaching staff … or at least he’s acting like it. Yesterday he stated that he felt the team was on a roll because they have finally all bought into the system and have put aside their feelings about the firing of Marty Schottenheimer in February.
Right now Tomlinson has 10,487 career rushing yards. It took Emmitt Smith 14 season to compile his record of 18,355 yards. LT is on pace to obliterate that record if he stays healthy and continues to play. The only area he hasn’t proved himself is in the playoffs, where he’s 0-2 in his career.
Though it’s hard to compare players from different eras, I guess it’s pretty easy to call this guy one of the best ever and he’s only 28-years-old. He’s basically the A-Rod of football. Every record is within his grasp if he plays long enough. Except I don’t expect to ever see LT on the cover of the New York Post, walking next to some random manly-looking stripper with the headline “Lovin’ Time?” or something.