NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The San Diego Chargers have their first-round bye, and Philip Rivers is still perfect in December.
Tennessee’s bid for NFL history? The Titans lost that along with their postseason dream, looking like a throwback to the team that started the season 0-6.
Rivers threw two touchdowns passes, LaDainian Tomlinson ran for two scores and the Chargers beat the Titans 42-17 on Friday night to grab the AFC’s No. 2 seed and that first-round bye in the playoffs.
“It was nice to get the two seed and keep the streak going in December and positioning ourselves going into the postseason,” Rivers said.
The AFC West champs streaked to their 10th straight win and tied the 1970-74 Miami Dolphins for most consecutive wins in a month with their 18th in December dating to 2006. The Dolphins won 18 in a row in November.
Darren Sproles caught a TD pass and ran for two more scores to help San Diego (12-3) squash the Titans’ dreams of becoming the NFL’s first team to start 0-6 and rebound to make the playoffs. Tennessee (7-8) had hoped to top what the 1994 Chargers did in reaching the postseason after an 0-4 start.
San Diego rolled, outgaining Tennessee 425-270 in total offense while holding the ball for 39 minutes. Coach Norv Turner credited his offensive line, which featured Nick Hardwick back at center after being out since the opener, with letting Rivers play.
“And he does it well,” Turner said. “Obviously, our guys are playing with great confidence right now.”
Chris Johnson’s quest to become the sixth NFL player to run for 2,000 yards in a season remains alive as the only goal left for Tennessee. He ran for a TD and 142 yards to put him at 1,872 with the season finale at Seattle left. He also notched his 10th straight 100-yard rushing game, putting him behind only Barry Sanders (14) and Marcus Allen (11).
He is 234 yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s single-season record of 2,105 yards.
“Anything’s doable,” Johnson said. “I feel like I can do it.”
The Titans, who had two starters in linebackers Keith Bulluck and David Thornton watching from the sideline due to injuries, simply disintegrated. Vince Young ran for a TD, but San Diego turned his three turnovers into 21 points.
“Too many turnovers on my behalf, definitely that was pretty much it,” Young said. “Every time we did get in a rhythm, I turned the ball over. That’s something I can’t do.”
Rivers threw for 264 yards and topped 4,000 yards passing for a second straight season. He directed the Chargers to TDs on six out of seven drives before leaving seconds into the fourth quarter.
“It’s as good a rhythm as we’ve been in all year,” Rivers said.
Tomlinson scored on a pair of 1-yard runs, the first giving San Diego a 7-3 lead. That also was his 137th rushing TD of the decade, topping the 136 TDs Emmitt Smith had in the 1990s for most in a decade in the NFL. Tomlinson’s second put him at 138.
Chargers 42, Titans 17
Ten—FG Bironas 46
SD—Tomlinson 1 run (Kaeding kick)
SD—Gates 36 pass from Rivers (Kaeding kick)
SD—Sproles 3 pass from Rivers (Kaeding kick)
Ten—Young 3 run (Bironas kick)
SD—Tomlinson 1 run (Kaeding kick)
SD—Sproles 9 run (Kaeding kick)
SD—Sproles 1 run (Kaeding kick)
Ten—Johnson 30 run (Bironas kick)
|Total Net Yards||425||270|
|Time of Possession||39:07||20:53|
RUSHING—San Diego, Tolbert 11-60, Tomlinson 16-59, Sproles 5-38, Hester 3-10, Jackson 1-3, Rivers 1-(minus 1), Volek 3-(minus 3). Tennessee, Johnson 21-142, Young 6-40.
PASSING—San Diego, Rivers 21-27-0-264, Tomlinson 0-1-0-0. Tennessee, Young 8-21-2-89.
RECEIVING—San Diego, Jackson 5-70, Gates 3-74, Floyd 3-55, Naanee 2-25, Sproles 2-23, Hester 2-8, Tomlinson 2-4, Tolbert 1-11, Manumaleuna 1-(minus 6). Tennessee, Washington 4-39, Johnson 3-37, Britt 1-13.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.