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SAN DIEGO 26, CLEVELAND 20

Tomlinson Powers Chargers

October 20, 2003|From Associated Press

CLEVELAND — As he danced, darted and dashed his way around the field, LaDainian Tomlinson had just one thought: Don't let the San Diego Chargers lose again.

Tomlinson rushed for 200 yards and one touchdown, and the Chargers held off Kelly Holcomb's comeback for its first win, 26-20, over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Steve Christie kicked field goals of 44, 50, 42 and 32 yards, and Kwamie Lassiter returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown as the Chargers (1-5) became the final NFL team to get a win this season.

Tomlinson couldn't take the losing any longer.

"He was bound and determined not to let us lose," quarterback Drew Brees said. "He wanted the ball."

Earlier this week, the third-year back said half-jokingly that he was willing to do anything -- even break the rules -- just to get the Chargers a victory.

"No, I don't think I did," he said with a smile when asked if he had done anything illegal. "But I was willing to, I'll tell you that. For some reason, I felt strongly that we were going to get a win. I just had a feeling we were going to put it together."

Tomlinson broke off a 70-yard touchdown run on his first carry after halftime and picked up 143 yards in the second half as the Chargers ended a nine-game losing streak.

But they had to survive Holcomb's passing to do it.

Holcomb replaced an ineffective Tim Couch late in the third quarter and threw two touchdown passes -- the second to tight end Darnell Sanders with 11:40 left -- as the Browns (3-4) trimmed a 17-point deficit to 23-20.

"I was scared," Tomlinson said. "I really was."

But he felt a little better after helping San Diego run nearly eight minutes off the clock by running for 48 yards to set up Christie's field goal with 3:44 remaining.

Holcomb finished 11 of 19 for 90 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Couch, who went 13 of 24 for 102 yards and two interceptions.

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