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 SAN DIEGO (AP) -LaDainian Tomlinson, Philip Rivers and the rest of the San Diego Chargers closed in on an improbable AFC West title by taking a 24-6 halftime lead over the Denver Broncos on Sunday night.
Tomlinson scored twice to vault into second place on the all-time list with 125 rushing touchdowns and Rivers tied Dan Fouts' 1981 team single-season record with his 33rd touchdown pass.
For one night, Mission Valley became Mediocre Valley as the Broncos (8-7) and Chargers (7-8) fought it out in the Ed Hochuli Bowl. The winner gets the division title and a home playoff game against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night.
ve owned all season. A loss would make them the first team since division play began in 1967 to miss the playoffs after having a three-game lead with three weeks to go.
The Chargers were trying to win their third straight division title after being written off when they were four games below .500. They could become the first team to go from 4-8 to the playoffs.
Denver won the first meeting between the increasingly bitter rivals on Sept. 14 with some help from referee Ed Hochuli. When the ball slipped from Jay Cutler's grasp and was recovered by Chargers inside linebacker Tim Dobbins, Hochuli ruled that it was an incomplete pass instead of a fumble. Hochuli later acknowledged his decision was wrong. However, by rule, the call could not be changed and Denver kept the ball. The Broncos scored on fourth down, followed by the winning 2-point conversion.
On Sunday night, Tomlinson used a nice spin move to score on a 4-yard run late in the second quarter, adding to the 1-yard scoring run he had in the first quarter.
Although L.T. is having the worst season of his brilliant eight-year career - he has only 10 rushing touchdowns - he moved out of a tie with Marcus Allen and into sole possession of second place on the career list. Emmitt Smith is No. 1 with 164 rushing TDs.
catch of a 37-yard pass helped set up L.T.'s first TD run, and Rivers threw a 34-yarder to Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates on a drive capped by a 12-yard scoring pass to tight end Brandon Manumaleuna early in the second quarter.
On Sunday night, Nate Kaeding kicked a 28-yard field goal and Denver answered with a 26-yard TD run by Tatum Bell. Matt Prater's PAT was good but a false start penalty moved the ball back 5 yards and on the re-kick, Prater hit the left upright
Denver cornerback Champ Bailey hurt his left elbow early in the game but returned.
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