NFL Game Summary - San Diego at Tennessee
(Friday, December 25th)
Final Score: San Diego 42, Tennessee 17
Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - Philip Rivers passed for 264 yards and a pair of scores, and San Diego wrapped up the AFC's No. 2 seed in the playoffs with a 42-17 rout of the Titans, extinguishing Tennessee's postseason hopes.
Darren Sproles rushed for a pair of scores and caught a touchdown pass as the Chargers (12-3) won their 10th game in a row. They've captured an NFL-record 18 in a row in the month of December, all with Rivers under center. They'll have a first-round bye in the playoffs along with the Indianapolis Colts, who are still unbeaten.
"Without winning them all we've positioned ourselves as good as we can going into the postseason," Rivers said. "We've been on a streak and I think that says a lot about our guys. In every way you can imagine to win a football game we've done it these past 10."
Rivers connected on 21-of-27 passes, and LaDainian Tomlinson rushed 16 times for 59 yards with two touchdowns for the AFC West champions.
"Phil was incredible," Tomlinson said. "I told him, I said, 'dude, you're playing out of your mind right now.' I don't see why he's not in the running for the MVP. I think it's ridiculous he's played like this and no one has talked about it."
Vince Young went just 8-of-21 passing for 89 yards and was picked off twice. He also had a rushing score for the Titans (7-8), who started the season by losing their first six games before making an incredible run toward a playoff spot. That came to a crashing halt on Christmas as they were beaten by the Chargers for a seventh straight time.
"We couldn't get in any rhythm tonight," Young said. "Too many turnovers on my behalf. That was pretty much it. Every time we did get in a rhythm I turned the ball over. It's something I can't do."
Chris Johnson had 21 carries for 142 yards and a TD in defeat. Johnson recorded his 10th straight rushing game with at least 100 yards, which extends his franchise record. It's also the third-best in NFL history.
Already holding a 21-10 lead at the half, the Chargers made it a blowout with three consecutive touchdown marches. Tomlinson powered in off right guard from a yard out to cap an 85-yard jaunt.
Following another Tennessee punt, Sproles rolled off right tackle to the end zone from nine yards away with 4:52 left in the third.
Eric Weddle intercepted Young, giving the Chargers the ball at the Tennessee 27. That led to Sproles' one-yard TD plunge on the first play of the fourth for a commanding 42-10 cushion.
With the decision well in hand, Rivers was replaced by ex-Titan Billy Volek for the remainder of the game.
The Titans converted a Jacob Hester fumble into a 30-yard TD run by Johnson with 8:02 remaining.
"It's disappointing coming off what we expected," Titans safety Chris Hope said. "Tonight's game was emotional because you knew how much was at stake."
The Titans scored on their first possession as Rob Bironas kicked a 46-yard field goal with 8:12 remaining in the opening quarter.
San Diego's big-play offense then paid dividends with touchdowns on six of its next seven drives. The only one without a score in that span was when Rivers kneeled down to the end the first half.
It started with Tomlinson scoring on a one-yard run to cap a 13-play, 76-yard march with 1:16 left in the first quarter.
Early in the second, Young moved the Titans in field goal range, but he was picked off by linebacker Brandon Siler in the middle of the field at the 19. Rivers then drove his team 76 yards again, this time in eight plays, culminated by a 36-yard scoring strike to Antonio Gates with 8:46 left in the half.
Gates was all alone on the left side of the field and literally walked into the end zone, but the Titans challenged the ruling on the field, thinking Rivers crossed the line of scrimmage before making the pass. Replays confirmed that part of Rivers' body was behind the line of scrimmage so the ruling on the field was upheld.
"Philip Rivers doesn't need to run. He's got great presence in the pocket," Chargers head coach Norv Turner said.
Young then fumbled the ball away on Tennessee's next possession and Shaun Phillips recovered for San Diego near midfield. Rivers had a 52-yard TD pass to Malcolm Floyd nullified by a holding penalty, but he managed to finish off the seven-play march with a three-yard toss to Sproles in the end zone with 3:13 remaining.
Young led the Titans on a TD drive just before halftime, scoring on a three- yard run with 17 seconds to go.
The Chargers' franchise record for consecutive wins is 15 (1960-61)...During their current win streak, the Chargers have outscored their opponents 73-16 in the first quarter...The Chargers have scored 20-or-more points in 21 straight games, including playoffs. It's the longest active streak in the NFL...Rivers has thrown a touchdown pass in a career-best 12 straight games. He surpassed the 4,000-yard mark in passing yards for a second straight season. He and Dan Fouts are the only QBs in team history to pass for more than 4,000 yards. Fouts did it three straight seasons (1979-81)...Chargers center Nick Hardwick made his first start since injuring his ankle in the season opener...The Chargers host Washington on the final Sunday of the regular season, while the Titans play at Seattle...Mike Tolbert rushed for 60 yards on 11 carries for the Chargers...Vincent Jackson had five catches for 70 yards for San Diego... The Chargers went to 7-1 on the road, setting a team record. Their 18 straight victories in December also ties the 1970-74 Miami Dolphins for most consecutive wins in any month. The Dolphins did that in November.
12/25 23:57:04 ET
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