- The Washington Times - Monday, September 30, 2002

SAN DIEGO Yes, the San Diego Chargers are for real. Any doubts were left in the vapor trails of LaDainian Tomlinson and his teammates as they raced past the New England Patriots.
Tomlinson tied the team rushing record with 217 yards and scored on runs of 58 and 37 yards as the Chargers defeated the defending Super Bowl champions 21-14 yesterday in a battle of unbeaten teams.
Playing in what Junior Seau called their biggest game in three years, the Chargers improved to 4-0 for the first time since their Super Bowl season of 1994.
"We shook up the world, baby," said Tomlinson, who had the most yards rushing in the NFL this season.
That was about as exuberant as the Chargers got, although a rare full house at Qualcomm Stadium went wild. The Chargers felt validated by the victory, but there's still three-quarters of the season left.
"It doesn't mean anything unless we make the postseason," said Seau, who hasn't been to the playoffs since 1995. "We're growing, and we hope to build on it."
The Patriots (3-1) lost for the first time in 13 games, including last year's Super Bowl run. It was also their first loss in 11 games against the Chargers, dating to 1973.
"It's a feeling we haven't had for a while," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. "We're all a little shellshocked right now. It's not that they're not a good team and didn't go out and beat us. But in a lot of respects, we beat ourselves."
With both Seau and safety Rodney Harrison in the lineup for the first time since opening day, the Chargers shut out Brady and the Patriots' powerful offense in the second half.
But it was Tomlinson's running that carried the Chargers. The go-ahead score came on his 58-yard run the longest of his career on the second play of the third quarter. He was helped along by an unbelievable block from pint-size receiver Tim Dwight.
Tomlinson cut outside, sidestepped one tackler about midfield and headed down the right sideline. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Dwight, a former Big Ten 100-meter champion at Iowa, showed incredible closing speed when he came from behind the play. He outran even Tomlinson and drove cornerback Otis Smith about 12 yards before sending him to the ground. That allowed Tomlinson to score the only touchdown of the second half.
"I saw Tim coming up and I said, 'Am I running that slow?'" Tomlinson said.
"It was just a block," Dwight said. "Curtis Conway did a great job of getting the first part, and I just finished it."
Tomlinson's 37-yard touchdown run tied the game at 14 late in the second quarter. He started off right tackle, then cut back inside and found a hole opened by rookie center Jason Ball. Tomlinson outran defensive backs Smith and Victor Green to the end zone.
"All I had to do is beat the secondary guys and take it to the house," Tomlinson said of his scoring runs.
Tomlinson tied Gary Anderson's team record for single-game rushing yardage, set against Kansas City on Dec. 18, 1988. Tomlinson's previous career best was 145 yards against the Chiefs last Dec. 23.
"He's not a secret, but in some fantasy leagues, they pick other backs over him," said Chargers defensive end Marcellus Wiley.

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