LaDainian Tomlinson (Matthew Stockman/Getty)
In a game where everything went wrong, the Chargers somehow came out all right. The Bolts lost the turnover battle and time of possession, but managed to rally late and score 20 unanswered points to upend the Tennessee Titans, 23-17.
Talk about a tale of two halves for
Philip Rivers. Rivers finished the first half with a passer rating less than 25 and an interception. Additionally, he failed to connect with any receiver more than once before the break. His struggles handicapped the entire offense, which went into intermission with 64 total yards and three first downs.
Billy Volek played the final 10:31 of the second quarter after Rivers injured his left knee on a hit by Antwan Odom. Volek couldn’t fare much better against his former team, going 0-for-2 with an interception.
Rivers came to life with about nine minutes left in the game. He led the team on consecutive touchdown drives, capping them off with a 7-yard pass to LaDainian Tomlinson and a 2-yard pass to Antonio Gates. Rivers was 11-of-17 for 127 yards during those two drives.
Although Rivers’ second-half rally was impressive, it was LT who stole the show. Tomlinson carried 26 times for 146 yards and a score. He also chipped in five catches for 27 yards and another score through the air. Tomlinson sealed the win with a 16-yard touchdown run around the left side.
Tomlinson’s winning score caused a bit of déjà vu. The Chargers’ last overtime game came in 2005 against the Washington Redskins, when Tomlinson won the game in OT with a 41-yard touchdown run. The final score of that game: 23-17.
Gates bounced back from a quiet outing last week, when he caught one pass for minus-1 yard. He finished with six catches for 57 yards and the tying score, despite missing much game after injuring his lower back early in the second quarter.
The team’s leading receiver was Chris Chambers, who caught four passes for 90 yards. Chambers’ biggest play was a 19-yard pickup on fourth-and-5 that kept alive the Chargers’ tying drive. This was the second time Chambers finished with 90-plus yards since joining the Chargers.
The defense did its part, containing the running game and rendering Vince Young completely ineffective. LenDale White was able to top the century mark (113), but did so while averaging only 3.77 yards per carry. Young did nothing to contribute to the rushing attack, running for a season low 2 yards.
Young wasn’t much better through the air, finishing with a passer rating of 38.1 to go along with two interceptions. Young finished with 121 passing yards, the first time in five games he finished with fewer than 246 passing yards.
The Chargers were able to get a strong pass rush early on, with Shawne Merriman netting two first-half sacks. However, Merriman left with a sprained knee late in the second quarter and the Chargers were unable to nab any sacks without him.
Antonio Cromartie got in on the act with his ninth interception of the season. That number leads the league and ties Charlie McNeill for the franchise record.
Matt Wilhelm also came down with a pick to go along with his 10 tackles. He has two interceptions on the season –- one more than Donnie Edwards has for the Kansas City Chiefs.
--Kassim Osgood made the special teams play of the game, downing a Mike Scifres punt at the Tennessee 1-yard line after the Chargers’ first overtime possession. The Titans went three-and-out, giving the Chargers a short field for the winning score.
--How did the knee injury to Darren Sproles help the Chargers win? It allowed Norv Turner to active Andrew Pinnock for the first time in three weeks. Pinnock filled in when Lorenzo Neal was hurt in the fourth quarter. He did an impressive job run blocking and picked up his first gain from scrimmage, a 5-yard reception that set up a Tomlinson touchdown.
--As bad as Billy Volek played in limited snaps, Kerry Collins did even worse. He completed one-of-three passes for minus-2 yards and endured a Merriman sack.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. He has followed the Chargers for more than 14 years and covered the team since 2003.