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San Diego at Detroit

Receiving line: Tomlinson leads Chargers past Lions

SportsLine.com wire reports

DETROIT -- LaDainian Tomlinson slipped past a linebacker, caught a pass and sprinted untouched for a 73-yard touchdown.

Unlike other NFL players, he didn't wait for the play to end to watch his larger-than-life image in the stadium.

"Once I hit that seam, I was looking up at the Jumbotron and I figured it was over," Tomlinson said. "I was looking up to see how close they were, and they weren't close enough for me to look back."

It wasn't the only time the Detroit Lions failed to corral Tomlinson.

Tomlinson caught nine passes for 148 yards, a season-high for running backs, and had two touchdown receptions to build a lead the Chargers held onto in a 14-7 victory over Detroit on Sunday.

"He may have the best pure hands on the team," Doug Flutie said. "He is a weapon."

Tomlinson's 73- and 16-yard scores in the first half gave San Diego a 14-0 lead it maintained through three-plus quarters. But the Chargers had to knock down Joey Harrington's heave with three seconds left to ensure a rare victory.

"I was concerned, because we gave them a chance to get back into the game at home in front of a big crowd," San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "But we were able to do enough to hang on and win, and we got a big stop at the end."

San Diego (3-10) had lost three in a row, and 17 of 21. The Lions (4-9) had won three in a row at home, and were a victory away from tying their combined total from the last two seasons.

Before halftime, Tomlinson had five receptions for 127 yards and two scores. He entered the game with only one career TD reception.

Tomlinson also had 88 yards rushing on 25 carries. He surpassed 200 yards offense for the fourth time this year with a season-high 236 yards.

"He clearly has every skill you look for in a running back," Schottenheimer said.

The Lions were able to stay close because the Chargers blew opportunities to pad their lead with 11 penalties for 95 yards, and Flutie had two turnovers.

Detroit pulled within a TD with 7:22 remaining when Harrington's 4-yard pass to Casey FitzSimmons capped an 83-yard drive.

The Chargers picked up only one first down on each of their next two possessions. The second time the Lions got the ball back, they drove to San Diego's 33 -- where their comeback hopes ended with three long incomplete passes.

"You've got to score some points, and we didn't do that," Detroit defensive end Robert Porcher said. "When you only give up 14 points in this league, you should win the game. It's almost impossible to ask a defense to hold an NFL team to six or seven points."

The Lions appeared flat after beating Green Bay 22-14 on Thanksgiving.

"I think what we're learning here is that if we can play as well as we can, we have a chance to beat even some good teams in the league, like the Packers," Detroit coach Steve Mariucci said. "But if we don't, anybody in the league can beat you."

Flutie was 17-of-25 for 244 yards with two TDs, an interception and a fumble. His crafty ways led to Tomlinson's first TD.

Flutie rolled right, then went back to his left before lobbing a pass to a wide-open Tomlinson late in the first quarter.

Tomlinson turned Flutie's short toss into a 73-yard score with 1:54 left in the second. He got past linebacker Barrett Green, then ran through the secondary.

The Chargers are 2-0 this season when Tomlinson scores at least twice, and 8-0 in his three seasons.

The Lions had not allowed an opponent to have 100 yards receiving since Arizona's Anquan Boldin had 217 yards in a Lions victory in the season opener at Detroit.

Harrington was 26-of-46 for 208 yards and a score.

The Lions were extremely fortunate to trail just 14-0 at halftime. Penalties negated two San Diego touchdowns, two more flags stunted another scoring opportunity, and Flutie turned over the ball twice deep in Detroit's end.

"I need to be a little more careful with the ball," Flutie said.


  • Detroit likely lost safety Corey Harris (torn hamstring) and long snapper Bradford Banta (broken collarbone) for the season with injuries.
  • San Diego cornerback Sammy Davis (right knee) was injured in the second half.
  • For the first time, Schottenheimer coached against his younger brother, Kurt, Detroit's defensive coordinator.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
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San Diego RB LaDainian Tomlinson (21) escapes Barrett Green and scores on a 16-yard TD pass.
San Diego RB LaDainian Tomlinson (21) escapes Barrett Green and scores on a 16-yard TD pass. (AP)


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Scoring Summary
TDLaDainian Tomlinson, 16 Yd pass from Doug Flutie (Steve Christie kick is good), 4:14. Drive: 9 plays, 70 yards in 4:48.
TDLaDainian Tomlinson, 73 Yd pass from Doug Flutie (Steve Christie kick is good), 1:54. Drive: 3 plays, 77 yards in 1:02.
TDCasey Fitzsimmons, 4 Yd pass from Joey Harrington (Jason Hanson kick is good), 7:22. Drive: 11 plays, 83 yards in 6:33.
San Diego
D. Flutie17/2524421
L. Tomlinson2588014
D. Flutie730013
L. Johnson2806
R. Caldwell1505
L. Tomlinson9148273
D. Boston466033
A. Gates218010
K. Osgood1808
J. Norman1404
J. Harrington26/4620810
B. Schroeder0/1000
S. Bryson102806
O. Gary520016
J. Harrington320011
R. Swinton554025
S. Bryson842012
B. Schroeder338025
M. Ricks225021
O. Gary320011
D. Kircus116016
C. Fitzsimmons3914
C. Schlesinger1404
Complete Player Stats