SDUT: Turner subs for Tomlinson and rubs out Colts

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

By Kevin Acee

December 19, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS – Michael Turner got the word from running backs coach Clarence Shelmon that he needed to go in on a fourth-quarter drive.

"I was surprised," Turner recalled. "I figured at that point something must be really wrong with LT."

With LaDainian Tomlinson on the sideline with his helmet off, unable to continue because of a lingering rib injury, Turner was stopped in the backfield for a 3-yard loss on his first carry in a drive that would decide whether the Chargers could hang on to upset the Indianapolis Colts.

On the next play, however, Turner took a handoff from Drew Brees, ran to the right, turned the corner after getting a block from Lorenzo Neal and raced untouched down the sideline for an 83-yard touchdown run.

"I didn't know he had that kind of speed," Brees said.

Brees has been as impressed as anyone by Turner's play this year, but it has been mostly Turner's ability to run through tackles that has made him a name as he has filled in sporadically for Tomlinson.

Yesterday, he showed why he was known as "The Burner" in college.

"He's a guy that I think one day he can be a starter in this league," Tomlinson said.

Meanwhile, Turner, who with the third-longest run in Chargers history crossed the 100-yard threshold for the first time in his two-year career, is happy being where he is.

"To be behind a man like that and still get some recognition, it's great," said Turner, who finished with 113 yards.

Better but not well
Early in yesterday's game Tomlinson seemed to be running as well as he had in more than a month. But the ribs he bruised two weeks ago against Oakland began to feel the pounding.

"In the second half I was struggling a little bit," Tomlinson said. "I knew there was going to be a point where as the game wore on and I was taking hits that I was going to have to come out. I just tried to go as long as I could."

He said his ribs feel better than they did after last week's game, and he expects to feel even better next week.

Tomlinson, who earlier this season ran a touchdown streak to an NFL-record-tying 18 games, was held scoreless for the third consecutive game. It was the first time that has happened since the end of his rookie season of 2001.

Before leaving the game late in the fourth quarter, Tomlinson ran 24 times for 76 yards. It was his third straight sub-100-yard rushing game, something that has happened just twice in the past four seasons.

His 76 yards, however, gave him 1,323 this season, making him the first player ever to rush for 1,300 yards in his first five NFL seasons.

Going for it
The Chargers had their two longest pass plays of the season yesterday on a 54-yard bomb to Keenan McCardell and a 49-yard pass play to Eric Parker. Their five completions of 20-plus yards were their most since Nov. 20.

"(The Colts') defensive philosophy is to play soft, keep everything in front of them," Brees said. "We dinked and dunked and ran and also felt like we were going to call some plays and take some shots. It turned out some of those shots were open, and we made nice plays."

Indianapolis was the second consecutive opponent to score 17 unanswered points in the third quarter.

Over the past nine games, the Chargers have allowed 16 first-quarter points, 34 in the second, 61 in third and 36 in the fourth.

The third quarter is also the Chargers' lowest-scoring quarter this season, especially lately. Including three points yesterday, the Chargers have scored 36 third-quarter points in their past nine games. Meanwhile, they have scored 69 in the first, 76 in the second and 74 in the third.

Part of it
Rookie Vincent Jackson made two fine third-down catches in the first half, for 21 and 20 yards.

Jackson saw his most action this season after Parker sprained his foot in the first quarter.

Still focused on what he can do this season, Jackson acknowledged it was nice to "get it going finally, going into the offseason on an upswing" after a rookie year largely lost to lower leg injuries.

Stout as ever
The Chargers will continue to lead the NFL in rushing defense after allowing the Colts 24 rushing yards, tying the season low the Chargers allowed Philadelphia on Oct. 23.

It was Indianapolis' lowest rushing total since 1991. The Colts entered the game averaging 125 rushing yards, 10th-highest in the NFL.

Edgerrin James, the NFL's second-leading rusher, gained just 25 yards, the second-lowest total of his career.

With 255 passing yards yesterday, Brees set a new career high with 3,347 yards this season.

Tight end Antonio Gates caught six passes for 29 yards and has a career-high 82 catches and 1,026 yards.

McCardell, in his 14th season, caught his career-high ninth touchdown of the season. With his three catches for 88 yards, McCardell also moved past Terrell Owens into 19th on the all-time receiving yards chart with 10,571.

Nate Kaeding's four field goals gave him a career-high 21 on the season.

The Chargers entered the game allowing opponents an average starting line of scrimmage following kickoffs of beyond the 31-yard line.

Only once yesterday did they allow the Colts to get beyond the 29, and the Colts' average starting point was the 28.

Plus, Matt Wilhelm forced the unit's first fumble of the season with a strip of Dominic Rhodes.

Up and down
The Chargers' offensive line continued its roller-coaster season. Yesterday was a peak. Thanks to Turner's 83-yard run, the Chargers totaled 206 rushing yards, their second-highest total of the season.

In the Chargers' nine victories, they have averaged 170 rushing yards and Brees has been sacked 10 times. In the team's five losses, they have averaged 73 rushing yards and Brees has been sacked 13 times.

Nuts 'n' Bolts
Yesterday was the Chargers' first victory in four games against the Colts since 1998, the year Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf were the NFL's top two draft choices.

Brees' failed sneak in the third quarter was the first time he has not converted on third-and-1 since 2003. He was 11-for-11 in 2004 and 3-of-3 this season.

The Colts had won 12 straight home games. Earlier this season, the Chargers ended the Patriots' 21-game home winning streak.

Mike Scifres dropped two punts inside the 20 yesterday. He has had 11 such punts in the past four games.