Ravens Quiet Tomlinson, But Rivers Takes Charge
San Diego 32, Baltimore 14
Sunday, November 25, 2007; 9:34 PM
SAN DIEGO -- It had been a while since the San Diego Chargers looked this good.
After a stretch in which they'd faced questions about everything from Philip Rivers' shaky passing to coach Norv Turner's leadership abilities, the Chargers raced past the floundering Baltimore Ravens 32-14 on Sunday.
Rivers quieted the boo-birds and rediscovered Antonio Gates, throwing two of his three touchdown passes to the All-Pro tight end.
LaDainian Tomlinson didn't find a lot of holes against the Ravens' tough defense but did become the 23rd player in NFL history with more than 10,000 yards rushing.
Outside linebacker Shawne Merriman was so fired up that he started into his spasmodic "Lights Out" sack dance after merely tackling Willis McGahee early in the game. Then again, it sure beat getting knocked on his rear end as Merriman had been a week earlier by Maurice Jones-Drew in a loss at Jacksonville.
It was such a laugher in the final minutes that fans were folding giveaway placards into paper airplanes and launching them from the upper decks. Merriman caught one and bowed to the crowd.
"We're coming together. We're ready to rock," said center Nick Hardwick, who returned after missing four starts with a foot injury. "We know what we've got to do to make it to the playoffs and make a good push in the playoffs and we're ready to get started on it."
The Chargers (6-5) won for the fifth time in seven games following their shocking 1-3 start and took over sole possession of first place in the AFC West following Denver's loss at Chicago.
The Ravens (4-7) set a franchise record with their fifth straight loss and tumbled into a last-place tie in the AFC North with Cincinnati. Quarterback Kyle Boller was sacked four times.
These teams finished with the best records in the AFC last year and would have met for a Super Bowl berth if not for pratfalls in their playoff openers. The Ravens lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts, and the Chargers melted down against New England.
Baltimore hasn't been the same since, and the Chargers, especially Rivers, have been wildly inconsistent in Turner's first season as head coach.
Rivers, who came in leading the NFL with 17 turnovers, didn't throw an interception for only the third game this season.