Toronto Star

San Diego finally proves it can win a playoff game

Chargers erase 13 years of post-season failures

- BERNIE WILSON ASSOCIATED PRESS

Chargers 17 Titans 6

SAN DIEGO— So the San Diego Chargers can win in the playoffs. Thirteen long years after their last post-season victory, the Chargers finally came to life late in the second half yesterday to beat the Tennessee Titans 17-6 in an AFC wildcard game. A gloomy, rainy afternoon never looked so good in normally sunny San Diego. Star running back LaDainian Tomlinson was held to 42 yards, but got to celebrate the first playoff victory in three tries in his brilliant seven-year career. “It didn’t come easy, but I tell you, I’m just happy to get that first one,” Tomlinson said. “It’s a relief, but at the same time, it’s not like we’re saying, ‘Okay, we won a playoff game, so let’s get ready to lose,’ you know what I mean? I’m already thinking about next week and how tough of a game we’re going to have going to Indianapol­is, facing the champs.” The Chargers will play the Super Bowl-champion Colts on Sunday. The Titans bottled up Tomlinson, the two-time NFL rushing champion and the 2006 NFL MVP and dared quarterbac­k Philip Rivers to beat them. The second-year starter did just that, throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson late in the third quarter that gave San Diego its first lead at 10-6.

Tomlinson finally found the end zone midway through the fourth quarter, on a fourth-down leap over the pile from inside the one-yard line that had to survive video replay.

Tomlinson went airborne and was met by linebacker Stephen Tulloch, but the running back used second effort to get the ball over the goal line before linebacker Colin Allred knocked it out of his hands.

Tomlinson jumped for joy once he emerged from the pile, but Titans coach Jeff Fisher threw his red challenge flag. After video review, it was ruled that the ball crossed the plane of the goal line.

There would be no comeback for Vince Young and the Titans, who were missing four offensive starters due to injuries.

Just like that, the nightmares of the Marty Schottenhe­imer era in San Diego finally went away.

Schottenhe­imer was fired due to front-office friction in February, a month after the Chargers inexplicab­ly melted down in a 24-21 divisional-round playoff loss to New England. The Chargers had gone an NFL-best 14-2 in 2006.

Two years earlier, the Chargers lost in overtime to the New York Jets in a home wild-card game.

Overall, the Chargers had lost four straight post-season games dating to their ugly 49-26 loss to San Francisco in the Super Bowl following the 1994 season.

 ?? MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS ?? Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, left, receives attention as he’s carted off the field with a toe injury in the second quarter of last night’s playoff game.
MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, left, receives attention as he’s carted off the field with a toe injury in the second quarter of last night’s playoff game.

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