SAN DIEGO (AP) -- If it had been, say, the Super Bowl, Philip
Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson would have played on.
Rivers sprained his right foot, which didn't keep him from
throwing two touchdown passes. Tomlinson, the record-setting
running back, had already wrapped up his first NFL rushing title
when someone stepped on one of his legs.
The Chargers (14-2) clinched home-field advantage throughout the
AFC playoffs. They'd already earned a first-round bye, which will
give Rivers and Tomlinson time to rest.
"Now we can put the record thing behind us and just get on to
playing football," said Tomlinson, the front-runner for the league
San Diego heads into the playoffs with a 10-game winning streak
and its first perfect home record since 1963. The Chargers' 14 wins
and eight home victories are club records.
"We accomplished a lot today," Rivers said. "Most
importantly, everything's going to come through San Diego. It was a
good day for the Chargers."
Tomlinson ran for 66 yards, giving him 1,815 and the league
rushing title. He beat Larry Johnson of the division rival Kansas
City Chiefs, who had 1,789.
The rushing title gives Tomlinson even more validation, as if he
really needed it.
"You kind of always have that hanging over your head when you
haven't won the rushing title," Tomlinson said.
"It feels real good," said Tomlinson, who added that he was as
pleased for his offensive linemen as he was for himself. "You are
regarded by whether you win a rushing title. All the great ones
pretty much have."
Tomlinson did not score for the second straight game. He already
was the league's most prolific scorer in a single season, with 31
touchdowns and 186 points.
San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer won his 200th
regular-season game, joining Don Shula, George Halas, Tom Landry
and Curly Lambeau in that exclusive club. Each of those coaches won
multiple Super Bowls or NFL titles.
Now Schottenheimer will try to do something about his unsightly
5-12 playoff record as he tries to get to his first Super Bowl.
Dennis Green might have coached his last game for Arizona
(5-11). He is 16-32 in three seasons.
The stage is set. The Chiefs-Colts game in Indianapolis will kick off wild-card weekend on Saturday, with three games to follow. First-round byes go to the Chargers (No. 1 seed) and Ravens in the AFC, and the Bears (No. 1) and Saints in the NFC. This weekend's lineup:
AFC: Chiefs at Colts, 4:30 ET (NBC)
NFC: Cowboys at Seahawks, 8 ET (NBC)
AFC: Jets at Patriots, 1 ET (CBS)
NFC: Giants at Eagles, 4:30 ET (FOX)
• For the complete playoff schedule, click here.
Green dodged questions about his future.
"I'm a 57-year-old man and I'm not going to discuss my feelings
right now," Green said.
Rivers was hurt when he was sacked by Chike Okeafor late in the
first quarter. He missed the first play of the next drive while
being treated on the sideline, then returned and went 5-for-6 for
82 yards, including a 33-yard TD pass to tight end Antonio Gates
that gave the Chargers a 10-7 lead.
He threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson late in the
first half, and continued to play even after the Chargers built a
17-point third-quarter lead. He clearly was bothered by the injury,
pulling up and limping each time he threw a pass.
"To me, it's not the biggest news of the day," Rivers said.
"To me, it'll be a non-issue come two weeks from now."
Rivers came out after some high-level huddling on the sideline
that included Schottenheimer, trainer James Collins, Dr. David
Chao, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, backup Billy Volek and
third-stringer Charlie Whitehurst.
Volek trotted out for a possession that started with 1:26 left
in the third quarter.
Rivers finished 19-of-24 for 231 yards with an interception.
"Whatever it may be, you don't want to make it worse," Rivers
said. "I think that was more the case than anything. Had this game
been for all the marbles, I'd probably still been going."
Same with Tomlinson, who said Schottenheimer wanted him to sit
out the final 1½ quarters.
"If he had told me to go back in the game, I would have,"
Arizona closed the gap with field goals of 28 and 20 by Neil
Rackers, and Kurt Warner's 9-yard touchdown pass to Larry
Trailing 27-17, the Cardinals got to the Chargers' 2-yard line
with 3:26 left before Shawne Merriman batted down Warner's
third-down pass, forcing Arizona to settle for Rackers' 20-yard
"We have as much talent as we need to have to be successful,"
said Warner, subbing for injured rookie Matt Leinart. "I think we
continued to improve throughout the season. I think the question
for all of us is, why we didn't play the first nine weeks like we
have the last seven?"
The Cardinals were 1-8 before winning four of their last seven.
The Chargers set the franchise season record with 492
points. ... Merriman had one sack to finish with 17.
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