October 23, 2014

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LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates have milestone day

CLEVELAND — In the big picture, the San Diego Chargers accomplished what they set out to do — win a football game. However, in the process of doing so, two of the Chargers made their presence felt personally and career-wise.

Running back LaDainian Tomlinson and tight end Antonio Gates had days they won’t soon forget in the 30-23 win over the Browns. Tomlinson became the fastest player to score 150 touchdowns, doing so in his 137th game. The previous record was 160 games by Emmitt Smith and before him, Jerry Rice at 167 games. Tomlinson also eclipsed Browns great Jim Brown in career rushing yards with an 11-yard run in the third quarter.

“As a kid playing football in the yard, I looked up to all the great running backs,” said Tomlinson, who finished with 64 yards on the ground. “But, there was a lot of days I was Jim Brown out there on the football field.

“To do it here in Cleveland is extra special. I can’t even tell you what it means because it seemed like it was supposed to happen being here in Cleveland.”

Tomlinson’s 11-yard run in the third quarter gave Tomlinson 12,315 rushing yards, three more than Brown’s 12,312 yards. After the run, Tomlinson walked about 10 yards looking toward where Brown was sitting and gave the former NFL career rushing leader a salute and a couple of heart taps.

“I obviously knew where he was sitting at,” said Tomlinson, who now stands at 12,321 rushing yards. “That was just an appreciation that I had for him giving a kid, but also a young man, something to strive for in terms of what he did on the football field.”

Despite slipping down to 9th on the career rushing yard list, Brown is comfortable with his place in history.

“My position in history doesn’t matter to me,” said Brown outside the Chargers locker room. “What I’m regarded as is a guy that played many years ago that satisfied the fans to a great degree. That they remember me is an honor.”

Although passing Brown was more memorable, the touchdown record has a special place for Tomlinson.

“It’s pretty special,” said Tomlinson of the touchdown mark. “I’ve always really enjoyed scoring touchdowns more than anything. Part of the reason is that is how you win the game, by scoring touchdowns.”

Gates, a graduate of Kent State, set a personal best mark with 167 receiving yards on eight receptions. The seventh-year pro passed his previous mark of 145 yards set against Kansas City during the 2005 season. Gates, who was doubled-covered much of the game, upped his season total to 994 receiving yards and with four games left is
6 yards away from his second career 1,000 yard receiving season.

“It didn’t really feel like a career day,” said Gates. “We sat on the sideline for so long (30:37). Cleveland did a good job of moving the ball. You look up and you make two or three plays and then you just have a career day.

“I compare it to being into some type of zone. When I seen it (the football) in the air I just felt like it belonged to me. I was just able to come up with some plays.”

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Contact Hans Schneider at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.