L.T. closes in on TD mark, Chargers on playoff berth

December 5th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: L.T. closes in on TD mark, Chargers on playoff berth


Associated Press

SAN DIEGO - LaDainian Tomlinson's touchdown binge has carried him to the cusp of NFL history and the San Diego Chargers to the verge of returning to the playoffs.
It's also practically rendered his coach speechless, and that's saying something.
Marty Schottenheimer, who was an English major at Pitt and loves to talk, doesn't know what to say anymore about Tomlinson's TDs, which now total 26 with a quarter of the season still to play.
"His achievements, I've run out of superlatives," Schottenheimer said Monday. "It's what he does. I'm going to tell you what - I stand on the sideline and I watch him like a fan. It's amazing."
The Chargers (10-2) host the reeling Denver Broncos (7-5) on Sunday. By game's end, Tomlinson could share or own the NFL's single-season touchdown record, and the Chargers could have a playoff spot locked up. Maybe Schottenheimer will have found a moment before then to pull out a thesaurus or log on to dictionary.com to figure out something new to say about Tomlinson.
The star running back scored two more touchdowns in San Diego's 24-21 win at Buffalo on Sunday, the Chargers' sixth straight win. He's three shy of breaking the record of 28 set last year by league MVP Shaun Alexander of the Seattle Seahawks.
Tomlinson has scored 23 touchdowns in the last eight games. He scored four times at Denver on Nov. 19, a week after he scored four TDs at Cincinnati. The week before that, he scored three against Cleveland.
Tomlinson is more concerned with getting to the Super Bowl than setting records. He is aware, though, that the single-season touchdown record has fallen three times since his boyhood idol, Emmitt Smith, scored 25 in 1995. Marshall Faulk had 26 in 2000, Priest Holmes 27 in 2003 and then Alexander 28 last year.
"It seems like each time this thing continues to grow, guys score more touchdowns," Tomlinson said. "It's no different here. I think it's been since Emmitt, it's been more guys really getting close to the record. Before that time, it was kind of a big deal to surpass the touchdown record. I don't know who had it before Emmitt, but once he did it, then it seemed like Marshall and Priest and Shaun, it seems like it's continuing. And so it's just another milestone."
Before Smith, John Riggins had 24 in 1983.
Tomlinson leads the NFL with 1,324 rushing yards and with 1,794 yards from scrimmage.
He seems to be as amazed as everyone else.
"It's been a little bit of everything, fun and kind of surreal, I think, all in one," Tomlinson said. "Because there's times where it's just really fun, and there's times where it's amazing. You're like, 'No way, this didn't just happen.' So I think it's a little bit of everything."
Barring a complete collapse, the Chargers are about to clinch just their second playoff berth in 11 seasons.
If the Chargers beat Denver, they'll be assured of at least a wild-card spot. If they win and the Kansas City Chiefs lose or tie at home against Baltimore, the Chargers will win the AFC West.
"We certainly can't overlook Denver," Tomlinson said. "These are big weeks we've got coming up, so there's no need for us to look toward the playoffs yet."
Not only have the Chargers opened a three-game lead in the AFC West, but they don't have to leave the Pacific Time Zone the rest of the regular season. Their only remaining road game is at Seattle on Dec. 24.
The Chargers caught Indianapolis in the race for the AFC's best record, although the Colts hold the tiebreaker based on a better conference record.