SAN DIEGO (Ticker) --
kicked the overtime field goal, but it was
who booted the
out of a share of first place in the AFC West.
Tomlinson rushed for a franchise-record 220 yards and three touchdowns to lead the
San Diego Chargers
to a 30-27 victory over their division rivals.
"I was too tired to celebrate," Tomlinson said after Christie kicked a 27-yard field goal with 3:01 left in overtime. "When it went through, it was like 'It's over.' I don't know if I had anything left."
The second overtime win in three weeks and third of the season moved the Chargers (8-4) into sole possession of first place, one-half game ahead of the
(7-4), who host the New York Jets Monday night, and a game in front of Denver (7-5).
The NFL's second-leading rusher, Tomlinson had totaled 181 rushing yards in his previous three games against the Broncos, who entered the game as the NFL's No. 1 run defense.
"I think they were only averaging 73 yards or something per game on the ground, number one in the NFL," Chargers quarterback
said. "For LaDainian to rush for 220 yards. Every time he touched the ball he made something happen. I think we made that an emphasis this week. We really got to be able to run the ball against these guys."
Tomlinson rushed for 137 yards on 17 carries in the first half alone and scored all three of his touchdowns - runs of three, one and five yards - on consecutive drives in the second quarter. He carried 10 times in the second half and 10 more in overtime and eclipsed 200 yards rushing for the first time. Tomlinson also caught 11 passes for 51 yards.
"That L.T. guy we've got on this team is a beast," said Chargers star linebacker
. "I'm glad he's on our team."
A first-round pick in 2001, Tomlinson broke the club record of 217 yards he shared with
. Tomlinson rushed for that total in a September 29 win over New England.
Both teams had chances to win the game in overtime before Christie converted his ninth overtime kick, tying Jim Breech of Cincinnati for the most in NFL history.
Tomlinson rushed for 40 yards on four carries on San Diego's first overtime possession before coach Marty Schottenheimer sent out Christie for a 38-yard field goal, but the kick was blocked with 10:41 left. In regulation, Christie kicked field goals of 20 and 40 yards, but was wide left from 42 and 49 yards out.
"I'm not going to make any excuses about what happened, why I missed the kicks, why they were blocked or anything like that," Christie said. "I was just very lucky to get the chance to come back and I hit them. I learned from (coach) Marv Levy a long time ago to persevere and come back and I've never forgotten that it came in handy today."
After Christie's overtime miss,
connected with tight end
on a 19-yard pass and hit
with a 16-yard pass, but Denver's drive stalled at the San Diego 34 and
was short and wide left on a 53-yard field goal attempt with 7:26 left.
"There wasn't anything wrong with the snap or placement, it was just a long kick," said Elam, who made a 54-yarder in the first quarter and tied the game with a 24-yarder with 1:39 left in regulation.
"Usually when he (Elam) comes out it's over," Seau said. "We're just fortunate he didn't kick it this time."
After the miss, San Diego took over on its 43. Brees hit rookie
with an 11-yard pass, connected with tight end
on a 20-yard pass and Tomlinson rushed six times for 17 yards to set up Christie for the winning kick.
"I think we showed a lot of heart going into overtime and driving the ball down, missing a field goal, and we kept our heads up," Alexander said. "We kept working and eventually made enough plays to get the win."
Brees was 27-of-41 for 217 yards.
Tomlinson remains second in the NFL with 1,318 rushing yards, only 32 shy of
' franchise record of 1,350 set during the 1994 Super Bowl season.
rushed for a season-high 159 yards and two touchdowns for the Broncos, who lost their second straight overtime game. Last week, Denver endured a heartbreaking 23-20 loss when
kicked a 54-yard field goal with three seconds left in regulation and a 51-yarder in overtime.
"All those yards are no good when you lose," Portis said. "You can't enjoy this day. I'm sure that LaDainian will enjoy this week more than I will. You're going to remember that LaDainian showed up and got the win."
Portis broke off a 43-yard scoring run with 20 seconds left in the first quarter to help the Broncos build a 10-0 lead.
But Tomlinson responded with a career-long 76-yard run down the left sideline on the Chargers' next play from scrimmage. He was stopped when cornerback
dragged him down by the facemask at the Denver 6.
"The attitude and the momentum changed from that play," said Tomlinson. "Our mindset was that we were going to score."
Tomlinson scored on a three-yard run on the next play four seconds into the second quarter to pull the Chargers within 10-7.
After the Broncos gained just one first down on their next possession,
punted just 28 yards out of bounds to the Denver 41.
Tomlinson immediately broke off a 24-yard run around left end. Three plays later, Brees hit Caldwell with an 11-yard pass before Tomlinson scored on a one-yard run up the middle, giving the Chargers a 14-10 lead with 9:26 left in the half.
On the Broncos' next possession, Beuerlein fumbled after being sacked and end
recovered the ball for the Chargers at the Denver 17. Six plays later, Tomlinson scored on a five-yard run up the middle, increasing San Diego's lead to 21-10 with 4:38 remaining.
's ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, the Broncos needed just three plays to reach the end zone. Beuerlein connected with
on a 47-yard pass to the San Diego 13. Portis rushed for five yards and then scored on an eight-yard run to pull the Broncos within 21-17 with 3:08 left.
That was enough time for Brees to direct an 11-play, 67-yard drive which resulted in a 20-yard field goal by Christie with seven seconds left in the half.
Denver opened the second half with a 10-play, 65-yard drive which Beuerlein capped with a 22-yard touchdown pass to running back
, tying the game at 24-24.
"We've let too many games slip away," said McCaffrey, who finished with seven catches for 126 yards. "It's not any one thing. You win as a team and lose as a team. We need to be critical of how we played and hopefully something like this won't happen again."
Beuerlein completed 22-of-39 passes for 288 yards, but was intercepted twice.