San Diego clinches No. 2 seed with win
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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 right 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 defeated the Titans, 42-17, last night at LP Field to grab the AFC's No. 2 seed and that first-round bye in the playoffs.
"It was nice to get the [No.] 2 seed and keep the streak going in December and positioning ourselves going into the postseason," Rivers said. "It says a lot about our guys and [coach] Norv [Turner]."
The AFC West Division champs streaked to their 10th consecutive 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 touchdown 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. 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. The run of 10, I don't think our guys have felt we're on a run of 10. I think it's been winning 10 games, one at a time. I know that's a cliche, but that is what they've done. That's probably the thing I'm proudest of."
Chris Johnson's quest to become only 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 touchdown and 142 yards to put him at 1,872 with the season finale at Seattle left. He also notched his 10th consecutive 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."
Titans coach Jeff Fisher has yet to beat San Diego, losing his sixth of seven straight losses to the Chargers in the series.
"This team had, it had life. It had a lot of life, and then we just kind of lost it," Fisher said.
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 touchdown, but San Diego turned his three turnovers into 21 points. Tennessee also matched a season high with nine penalties.
First Published December 26, 2009 12:22 am