December 17, 2010 in Sports

San Diego blasts 49ers to move closer to Chiefs in AFC West

Bernie Wilson Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

San Diego’s Vincent Jackson exults after one of his three touchdown receptions.
(Full-size photo)

SAN DIEGO – Vincent Jackson reminded the San Diego Chargers just what they missed during a nasty contract dispute.

Jackson had a career-high three touchdown catches, Philip Rivers surpassed 4,000 yards passing for the third straight season and the Chargers beat Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers 34-7 on Thursday night to stay alive in the AFC West race.

The Chargers (8-6) pulled within one-half game of AFC West leader Kansas City (8-5), which lost 31-0 at San Diego on Sunday.

San Francisco was probably the toughest test left for the Chargers, who finish with games at Cincinnati (2-11) and Denver (3-10). If San Diego wins out and the Chiefs lose once, the Chargers will win their fifth straight division title.

The Chargers came within 4:26 of having consecutive shutouts for the first time in their 51-year history.

Jackson had his first three TD grabs of the season, of 58, 11 and 21 yards. Jackson missed the first 10 games because of a bitter contract dispute.

The 49ers (5-9) could wind up 7-9 and in a three-way tie and still win the NFC West, the NFL’s weakest division.

Rivers and Jackson came out early in the fourth quarter and the Chargers leading 31-0. Rivers was 19 of 25 for 273 yards, giving him 4,141 for the season. He tied Dan Fouts’ team record set from 1979-81.

Jackson had five catches for 112 yards.

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