6. “Raider Wrecker” October 14, 2007 / December 28, 2003: Oakland Raiders vs San Diego Chargers
I couldn’t decide which moment to include but felt that both were very deserving to make the list so I am combining them into the ultimate LT record-setting games vs Raiders.
In 2007, the matchup against the Raiders, LaDainian Tomlinson would single-handedly beat the Raiders, scoring all four TDs as the Chargers beat them 28-14.
He would finish the game with 198 yards and four TDs on 24 carries, setting his career high with the four rushing scores. He scored from 3, 27, and 13 yards out and sealed the game late in the fourth quarter with a 41-yard TD run.
A few years earlier it was LT cementing his greatness against the hated Raiders as he ran for his career high 243 yards on the ground in their week 17 matchup in a 21-14 win.
That victory would start a 13-game Chargers’ winning streak over the Raiders and LT was a huge reason, averaging 132 yards a game against them.
5. “Sproles To The Rescue” January 3, 2009: AFC Wildcard Indianapolis Colts vs San Diego Chargers
The Chargers crushed the Broncos in week 17 of the 2008 season to finish 8-8 on the year but still won the AFC West. That set them up for a home game against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. LaDainian Tomlinson exited the game with a groin injury which paved the way for “mighty mite” Darren Sproles to shine. He finished the game with 328 all-purpose yards, including the game-winning 22-yard TD run in overtime.
Nate Kaeding also hit a clutch field goal to send the game to OT and Mike Scifres averaged over 50 yards a punt, pinning the Colts offense deep on multiple occasions. The Q was absolutely rocking when Sproles broke that plane on that game-winning run. I had actually just gotten home that night from a family trip and I picked up my girlfriend at the time (I was a senior in high school) and was driving home to try to catch OT. I was listening on the radio when Sproles scored and I blasted the horn for 10 blocks until I got home.
4. “LT Makes History” December 10, 2006: Denver Broncos vs San Diego Chargers
LaDainian Tomlinson had a historic 2006 season on his way to the Chargers first NFL MVP award. He completely rewrote the record book that year which came to fruition late in the season against division rival Denver Broncos. Needing two more TDs to break the record, LT ran one in from 6 yards out to tie the record with 3:57 left in the game. The Broncos fumbled the ball and 47 seconds later, LT would score again from 7 yards out, his third TD of the game, to break the record.
His teammates would mob him and lift him up over their shoulders as the crowd cheered “LT, LT, LT.” The Chargers would also clinch the AFC West with that 48-20 win.
After the game LT said “When we’re old and can’t play this game anymore, them are the moments we are going to remember, that we’ll be able to tell our kids, tell our grandchildren. We can talk about
something special that we did. We made history today.”
3. “LT Goes Over The Pile” January 8, 2006: AFC Wildcard Tennessee Titans vs San Diego Chargers
The Chargers hadn’t won a playoff game in 13 years, since they made their only Super Bowl run in 1994. It was the first year Norv Turner took over after Marty Schottenheimer was fired following a 14-2 season.
With the Chargers leading 10-6 midway through the 4th quarter, LT took a handoff on 4th and goal, leaping over the pile, and scoring on a second effort. LT had been bottled up all day, but that score put the game away and the Chargers won their first playoff game in over a decade. This is one of my favorite memories at the Q as I was at this game as a 14-year-old and just feeling so amazing getting a playoff win.
2. “Cromartie Goes Crazy” November 11, 2007: Indianapolis Colts vs San Diego Chargers
I might be biased because I was at this game, but boy was this a great game to witness. Peyton Manning was picked off a career-high six times(!), with three by Antonio Cromartie, as the Chargers held on late for the 23-21 win.
Forget OBJ, Cromartie was the first to make an insane one-handed catch. I think that was every kids wallpaper on their computers for years. I know it was for me. I also had a Cromartie jersey because I played cornerback in high school and he was my favorite player. Shaun Phillips, Matt Wilhelm, and Clinton Hart also added a pick each, as the game went down to the wire, but Adam Vinatieri‘s 29-yard field goal was wide right and the Chargers escaped with a 23-21 victory, and Manning had to think about all six of his interceptions.
1. “Super Bowl Bound” January 15, 1995: Pittsburgh Steelers vs San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers went 11-5 on their way to being crowned 1994 AFC West Champs. They earned the #2 seed and a first round bye, but had to face Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins in the Divisional round. A late TD pass from Stan Humphries gave the Bolts a 22-21 lead and Dolphins kicker Pete Stoyanovich missed a 48-yarder as time expired.
The Chargers would face the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers on the road in the AFC Championship. The Steelers would lead 13-3 going into half, but Humphries threw two long TDs and Dennis Gibson batted away a pass on 4th and goal from the three-yard line to hold on for the victory and propel the Chargers to their only Super Bowl appearance.
70,000 Charger fans gathered at Qualcomm stadium to welcome the team home as they arrived from Pittsburgh. I was only three years old, so unfortunately I didn’t make it out there. Some players addressed the fans and the crowd was rocking with an excitement that had eluded San Diego Sports for a long time. It was a magical time for this franchise and hopefully a moment we all can feel again one day.