During a clear-the-air meeting with Tice last Thursday, Moss became emotional. According to Tice, Moss said, "I love football. I need football in my life." Then Moss said he was angry that Tice never asked how he was doing when he showed up after being released from jail. "All you did was yell at me," Moss said to Tice. "All I wanted was a hug, and you wouldn't even hug me."
This man doesn't need a coach, Tice thought, starting to get misty-eyed himself. He needs a father. Also in that meeting Tice told Moss, "You will never live a normal life." On Sunday, Moss got a taste of what's in store for him.
Tomlinson's Record Game
Charger Runs Patriots Ragged
With his team trailing the Patriots 14-7 in the second quarter on Sunday, Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson was worried. New England was controlling the clock, while San Diego was struggling to sustain a drive. "I was hyped on the sideline, until heard my linemen saying, 'Don't worry; they can't hang with us.' That relaxed me." Duly composed, Tomlinson went to work, tying the score at 14 on a 37-yard run with 2:28 left in the half and then providing the winning touchdown on a 58-yard romp on the second play after intermission.
Tomlinson finished with 27 carries and a team-record-tying 217 yards in the Chargers' 21-14 victory, which snapped the Patriots' 12-game winning streak. The win, according to San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer, "finally gives this franchise real substance." It also gives the Chargers their first 4-0 start since their 1994 Super Bowl season.
After watching the Chiefs' Priest Holmes shred New England for 180 yards on Sept. 22, Tomlinson figured he'd be getting the Patriots one week too late. But in studying film of that game, Chargers coaches saw that the Pats used several nickel packages—with a third safety replacing a linebacker—on first and second downs, leaving them vulnerable to quick-hitting runs. "We knew if we could get LT past the line, he could do the rest," said right tackle Vaughn Parker.
The film also revealed New England's tendency to overpursue ballcarriers, which San Diego exploited by repeatedly faking reverses to wideouts Tim Dwight and Curtis Conway, freeing Tomlinson to burn New England with cutback moves. Indeed, it was his dart back to his right (as Dwight faked an end around) that froze Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi and sprung Tomlinson on his second scoring run.
"I've become more patient this year," says Tomlinson, the fifth pick in the 2001 draft, who leads the NFL with 506 rushing yards. "With the way my line was taking it to them today, it was easy?"
As impressed as they were with Tomlinson's two scoring runs, teammates were equally inspired by the between-the-tackles running of the man they call the Joystick, "because he's got all the moves in the video games," says defensive end Marcellus Wiley. "Some people think that just because you have a Ferrari, you can't drive it cross-country. But the Joystick runs hard like that every day?"
Late Heroics Boost Maddox