RB LaDainian Tomlinson (Donald Miralle/Getty)
The Chargers made millions of fantasy owners happy on Sunday. LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner both gained more than 100 yards from scrimmage; Philip Rivers had a hand in three scores; and Vincent Jackson was good for 84 yards and a touchdown. While the specialists were quite special, it was the offensive line that paved the road to victory.
The Chargers finally looked, well, like the Chargers on Sunday.
Tired of losing three straight games and with self-doubt creeping in, the Chargers went smash mouth in Denver and the result was a 41-3 thrashing.
The Chargers were on their way to a similar victory two weeks ago against visiting Kansas City. But for whatever reason, the Chargers got away from running the ball and the victory got away from them.
So Sunday in Denver, the team went back to what it did best when sprinting to a 14-2 record last year: let the big uglies do their thing up front and set the tone for the offense.
"That's two weeks in a row where we've kind of offensively hung our hat on the play of our offensive line," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "Once again those guys have come through."
The running game was slow to get on track, as it was used in sporadic fashion over the first four weeks. But the offensive line proved Sunday that whatever ails the Chargers can be fixed if they stayed fixed on knocking people off the line of scrimmage.
While Tomlinson didn't hit the 100-yard rushing mark, he did have a combined 140 yards, which included 67 on the ground.
Tomlinson's backup, Michael Turner, went for 147 on just 10 carries, including a 73-yard scoring run.
In all, the Chargers collected 214 rushing yards on a day in which they piled up 484 total yards.
"That just shows us and tells us that whenever we hang our hat on those guys they're going to step up to the challenge and control the line of scrimmage," Tomlinson said.
--QB Philip Rivers was sensational Sunday, having one of his finer days as a pro. With ample protection, he looked calm in the pocket while completing 13-of-18 passes for 270 yards, two scores and one rushing touchdown. With the Chargers able to run the ball so effectively, Rivers was able to launch a passing attack which the Broncos couldn't stay with.
--RB LaDainian Tomlinson showed off his versatile skills by collecting 67 yards rushing and 73 through the air. He was kept from the end zone, but Chargers fans have to be encouraged with him getting 24 touches before giving way to Michael Turner.
--TE Antonio Gates continues to have one of his better seasons -- and that's saying something. He had a team-high seven receptions for a game-high 113 yards and a score. Chargers detractors always point out the team doesn't have a go-to wide receiver. They do, he just happens to play tight end.
--WR Vincent Jackson had a solid day, one game after dropping a sure touchdown pass. He had three catches for 84 yards and that included a long of 45. If this guy is ever able to contribute on a consistent basis, watch out.
--WR Craig Davis came in with a sprained ankle and never did get into the flow of the game. He didn't have a catch but it seems he got through the game without aggravating the injury.
--RB Michael Turner continues to build his resume as he hits the free-agent market after the season. He had a 74-yard touchdown run to give him 147 yards on just 10 carries. He continues to prove he is the best backup running back in the NFL.
--ILB Matt Wilhelm was back in the lineup after missing two starts with a strained calf. He was active in the middle, collecting six tackles. He was among the reasons the Broncos were restricted to 72 yards rushing.
--S Marlon McCree has been struggling in the season's first month, but he bounced back with one of his finer games as a Charger. McCree had four tackles, an interception, a pass defensed and a forced fumble.
--OLB Shawne Merriman wasn't able to get to QB Jay Cutler, making it three out of five games he's been held without a sack. That's surprising in that the Broncos fell behind so early that it was obvious they would be passing on the majority of downs. But Merriman, who has three sacks, was only able to get four tackles.
--CB Quentin Jammer is a usually a prime target for the Chargers' secondary breakdowns but he had a solid game on Sunday. Jammer had a team-high seven tackles and added a pass defenses and a fumble recovery.
--With Wilhelm's return, backup Carlos Polk could go back and concentrate on his work on special teams. And it was his thunderous hit of Brain Clark which separated him from the ball which ricocheted nicely to Brandon Siler and he returned it for a touchdown. The Chargers rode the spark Polk delivered to a convincing victory.
--DT Jamal Williams had a relatively quiet afternoon with the Broncos so bent on passing -- he had two tackles. More importantly is he didn't have to tax a balky knee which has been bothering him and is a full go for this week's game against the Raiders.
--KR/PR Darren Sproles is looking more and more comfortable fielding the ball and getting up field. He had a 23-yard punt return and brought back a kick 27 yards.
--WR Malcom Floyd was supposed to be a bigger part of the passing game with starter Davis nursing a sprained ankle. But Floyd was shut out, as was every wide out not named Vincent Jackson.