Tomlinson ensures Chargers best in West

LADAINIAN TOMLINSON seized the NFL single-season record for touchdowns on Sunday as the San Diego Chargers captured the AFC West division crown.

Tomlinson rushed for three touchdowns to take his total for the season to 29, eclipsing the record of 28 set by Seattle’s Shaun Alexander last year.

The Chargers downed Denver Broncos 48-20 to win the division for the second time in three years, improving to 11-2, one game ahead of Indianapolis for home field advantage throughout the play-offs.

The Colts wasted another chance to clinch the AFC South title as they fell 44-17 to Jacksonville. Rookie Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for a season-high 166 yards and two touchdowns.

They dominated us from start to finish,” said Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who completed just 25-of-50 passes. “We just need a win to get back on track.”

New England Patriots also failed in their bid to clinch the AFC East, suffering their first shut-out since 2003 at the hands of Miami.

Quarterback Tom Brady, a two-time Super Bowl MVP completed just 12-of-25 passes for only 78 yards. He was sacked five times.

In contrast, the Chargers continued a dream run on Sunday with their seventh win in a row.

Tomlinson rushed for two of his scores in a 47-second span late in the fourth quarter. He had pulled within one of the record when he scored on a seven-yard run with 23 seconds left in the second quarter to help the Chargers to build a 28-3 lead.

Tomlinson scored on a six-yard run to tie Alexander’s record with 3:57 left in the fourth quarter. The Chargers then recovered at the Denver seven-yard line.

Tomlinson then took a hand-off and raced over around the left side.

The loss sees Denver slip a game behind Jacksonville and Cincinnati in the AFC wild-card race.

The Bengals stayed in the postseason mix with a 27-10 victory over lowly Oakland. Baltimore moved a step closer to the AFC North title with a 20-10 victory over Kansas City. NFC East leaders Dallas were thrashed 42-17 by NFC South leaders New Orleans. The Saints improved to 9-4 and have a two-game lead in the NFC South over Atlanta, who beat the lacklustre Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-6.

Elsewhere in the NFC East, both the New York Giants and Philadelphia improved to 7-6, the Giants with a 27-13 victory over Carolina and Philadelphia with a 21-19 victory over Washington. Arizona surprised Seattle 27-21, Buffalo beat the Jets 31-13, Minnesota downed Detroit 30-20, Tennessee topped Houston 26-20 in overtime, and Green Bay beat San Francisco 30-19.

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