LT climbs charts, Bolts beat Eagles 31-23

Alex Kratman

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SAN DIEGO (AP)—Motivation came in different forms for the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, from Denver’s loss to the little surprise LaDainian Tomlinson’s(notes) wife left in his locker.

Tomlinson’s career certainly isn’t finished and neither is the AFC West race.

Tomlinson ran for a season-high 96 yards and scored twice to continue his climb up the career rushing and scoring lists, and the Chargers beat the Philadelphia Eagles 31-23 to pull into a tie atop the AFC West with the slumping Broncos.
Asked if something happened that gave him motivation, L.T. got a little emotional.

“I don’t know if I want to talk about it,” he said. “My wife is pregnant. I found out before the game. She left me a gift in my locker. It said, ‘Open immediately.’ I thought it was a necklace. It was a pregnancy test.”

The child will be the couple’s first. LaTorsha Tomlinson suffered a miscarriage in 2005.

Fired up about fatherhood, Tomlinson passed Thurman Thomas and Franco Harris and moved into 12th place all-time with 12,145 yards. His two touchdowns gave him 146 and moved him past Marcus Allen and into third place on the all-time list.

“It’s kind of surreal,” Tomlinson said of his latest accomplishment, noting that he has a ball autographed by Harris in his trophy case. “I grew up watching all those guys. It’s mind-boggling that I am third all-time.”

It appeared for a while in the offseason that L.T. would be a salary-cap casualty, but the sides finally agreed to a reworked contract. He turned 30 in June, then sprained his right ankle in a season-opening win at Oakland. He missed the next two games, the first time in his brilliant career that he missed regular-season games due to injury.

“I’m still effective,” he said. “That’s all that counts. Still finding ways to help this team win.”

The score of the Broncos’ 27-17 loss at Washington—Denver’s third straight — was announced moments before kickoff in San Diego. The Chargers then went out and won their fourth straight.

The Chargers and Broncos, both 6-3, play next Sunday in Denver. Four weeks ago, the Chargers appeared dead in the water, 3 1/2 games back after losing 34-23 to the then-undefeated Broncos.

“We didn’t know it would happen this fast,” quarterback Philip Rivers(notes) said. “We believed we could get ourselves back in it.”

Eagles running back Brian Westbrook(notes) was knocked out with another concussion. He had missed the previous two games after a concussion during a win against Washington on Oct. 26.

“In these types of situations, football is secondary,” coach Andy Reid said. “You’ve got to look at this kid and for his future, and make sure everything’s OK for him before he gets back out there.”

Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb(notes) threw for a season-high 450 yards, completing 35 of 55, and two late touchdowns. He was intercepted in the end zone by Antonio Cromartie(notes) on the game’s last play.

The Eagles (5-4) made it inside the Chargers’ 10-yard line three times only to have to settle for field goals by David Akers(notes).

“When you have those opportunities to score we have to pound it in there,” McNabb said. “We definitely tried, but credit to them, but they stopped us, obviously, from running the ball into the end zone.”

The last time the Chargers played the Eagles, on Oct. 23, 2005, Tomlinson was held to 7 yards on 17 carries, his career low for a regular-season game.

His previous season-high was 71 yards in a win at Kansas City three weeks ago.

Tomlinson scored on a 3-yard run to give the Chargers a 14-0 lead four minutes into the second quarter. Midway through the third quarter he chugged 20 yards through the right side of the Eagles’ defense to make it 21-6.

Rivers threw touchdown passes of 20 yards to wide-open fullback Mike Tolbert(notes) in the first quarter and 20 yards to Legedu Naanee(notes) in the third quarter. Rivers was 20 of 25 for 231 yards and no interceptions, with a rating of 131.8.

Naanee was flagged for excessive celebration for kneeling in front of a Chargers cheerleader and handing her the ball. The Chargers had to kick off from their 15. Naanee said it was spontaneous.

The Eagles were stuffed their first three times inside the San Diego 10, including when they had the ball first-and-goal from the 1 after Quentin Jammer’s(notes) pass interference penalty in the end zone in the second quarter. They had to settle for field goals of 18, 25 and 25 yards.

McNabb threw a 5-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin(notes) early in the fourth quarter and 6 yards to tight end Brent Celek(notes) with 7:12 left to pull the Eagles to 28-23.

NOTES: McNabb tied his franchise record with 35 completions. His 450 yards are second in franchise history behind of record of 464. … Eagles WR Jason Avant(notes) had eight catches for 156 yards. … Philly CB Sheldon Brown(notes) hurt a hamstring … Chargers RT Jeromey Clary(notes) hurt an ankle.

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LT climbs charts, Bolts beat Eagles 31-23