Tomlinson: nowhere to run

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Jul 6, 2005

October 24, 2005

PHILADELPHIA – The first carry went for a loss of 3 yards; the second was for double that. By the end of the first quarter, when LaDainian Tomlinson had lost 13 yards on four attempts, it was clear this would not be a normal day.

"It's been awhile since I felt like that," Tomlinson would say later, at the end of a day that truly was like no other in his career.

The Chargers' All-Pro running back, generally considered the best player in the league at his position, if not all of them, carried the ball 17 times yesterday in San Diego's 20-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

He gained 7 yards. Seven! Put another way, he gained 21 feet . . . or 252 inches. Which works out to 0.4 yards a carry . . . 1.2 feet . . . 14.8 inches .

This, from a back who was averaging nearly 4.9 yards a carry and 108.7 yards per game this season.

"It just didn't pan out," tackle Shane Olivea said. "You sit there and you wonder why. It's frustrating. I personally feel we let LT down . . . because we wanted to get him that record more than maybe him."

Oh, yes, the record. Tomlinson had scored at least one touchdown in his last 18 games, equaling a 40-year-old NFL record established by Hall of Famer Lenny Moore. One more score yesterday would have given him sole possession of the mark.

He never got it. He came close, landing about a half-yard short of the goal line on a critical fourth-quarter attempt, but a holding penalty on the next play pushed the Chargers too far from the goal line for Tomlinson to have another chance.

"It's not much of a disappointment," Tomlinson said about missing out on the solo record. "I've had a great run at it. I'm happy with being tied with Lenny. Any day, I'll take that. Like I said, everything must come to an end and I've had a great run. I'm certainly not disappointed at all."

Maybe not with the record, but the game was another story. After all, it wasn't the first time Tomlinson had been kept out of the end zone, but it certainly was the first time he finished in single figures, probably at any level. His previous professional low was 29 yards (on eight carries) on Nov. 16, 2003, in Denver.

Six of his first eight carries went for negative yardage, plus another one in the final period. He gained more than 2 yards only three times – a pair of 5-yard runs and a 7-yarder.

"They just played good defense," Tomlinson said. "I don't know specifically what they did; I have to wait to see the film."

It figures Tomlinson won't like the replay any more than he liked the live action. The Eagles played eight, sometimes nine defenders close to the line of scrimmage, and the Chargers simply were unable to get everyone blocked.

"No matter how many people they put up in there, we have to get a hat on a hat and expect (No.) 21 to find a lane," tackle Roman Oben said. "I think we failed in certain circumstances."

Said Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer: "They played like a six-man line, the way they were bringing up their linebackers and safeties. I think you have to credit them. Their scheme posed problems for us. It wasn't that we didn't try. There just wasn't anything there in the running game."

The passing game produced a season-high 299 yards (270 net) from Drew Brees, but the big story afterward was Tomlinson, just because his day was so far from the norm.

The Eagles blitzed a lot and made sure "everything was funneled inside," as safety Brian Dawkins put it. Fullback Lorenzo Neal said the Chargers practiced against everything the Eagles threw at them and termed it "kind of baffling" that they played so poorly.

"The plan was there; we didn't execute," he said.