>>Welcome to San Diego. The NFL on CBS. The rivalry game. The Broncos and Chargers meeting for the second time in just a three-week span. And if the Chargers win here today, they can lock up the AFC West and assume the lead position in the AFC, as the Colts have already been dismantled today by Jacksonville. So, it’s the Chargers and the Broncos. Jim Nantz along with Phil Simms. Welcome, friends. And, again, San Diego won at Denver. They meet again.>>Well, they do meet again.. For the Denver Broncos, it’s not a must game, but we’re getting close. For the San Diego Chargers, they’re playing better than anybody in the NFL, so I’m excited to watch them play here today.>>I am looking forward to it, as well. The Broncos have won the toss. And we will see Jay Cutler and the Denver offense to begin the game. Brian Clark is back deep to return, a former North Carolina State teammate of Philip Rivers. A lot riding on this one on each side. And we’re under way at Qualcomm. And it’s Clark from the 1. Taking it up the middle to the 23. Making his debut last week. Two touchdowns, two picks. His first start on the road for the rookie from Vanderbilt. Pears on that left side, but Nalen, the center, with that quick, forceful snap that took some adjusting, last week, for Cutler. And Tatum Bell had a career-high 133 yards on the ground last week in the loss to Seattle. So, from the 23. [ Whistle blows ] Early movement on the right side. And Pete Morelli and his team bring out the flags.>>False start — number 72, offense. 5-yard penalty. Still first down.>>That San Diego defense going against Tatum Bell, off Bell’s career game, has not allowed a 100-yard rusher here at home in 20 games. And Jamal Williams blocks that middle of the field, plugs it up. Great linebacking corps, headed by Merriman, who returned last week after the four-game suspension. And Marlon McCree, the free agent coming over from Carolina, bringing so much leadership and savvy to that secondary. Cutler completes the pass to the 30 to Rod Smith. And it was back home to Houston for Vince Young. That was such an emotional week all week, as the Texans passed on him in the draft. As you see the Broncos picking up the first down with Tatum Bell. A gain of 4. And that’s a way to settle things down, if you’ve got the rookie quarterback — not put in a three-and-out position.>>Well, it does settle him down, Jim. Overcoming a false start to start the drive. But we saw the opening play — a deep drop by Jay Cutler and a throw down the field. Throws a strike — that’s got to take a little pressure and make him feel good early.>>So, a first down from the 35. And it’s back to Bell. And he picks up an easy 5 yards, running behind Cooper Carlisle.>>The last time these teams played, not long ago, the Denver Broncos, early in the game, ran the football extremely well. Of course, San Diego very cognizant of that.>>Mike Shanahan’s team had the big lead in that game. Blew the lead. Lost the next two. Three-game losing streak for the Broncos. Going against a team with six straight wins. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms welcome those of you who saw the Titans with that overtime victory against Houston. And a time-out called by Cutler and the Broncos. They picked up a first down here on this opening series, but a time-out called by the rookie here in San Diego. Mike Shanahan and the Broncos coming out of a time-out, facing second down and 5. A man with great convictions.>>He made a change at quarterback at 7-4. You know, this is not — He’s not a politician. He didn’t take a poll to see what everybody wanted. He did what he thought was best for his football team.>>Put his rookie in a shotgun here on second and 5. Fires it. Hits it. And it’s Walker moving it into the San Diego territory. He’s got four receivers. And, again, he’ll let — Shanahan will let him operate from the gun on first down. Pass a little too high. Caught out by Stephen Alexander.>>Little different. A different look right there. Four receivers spread out for this San Diego — I mean, for the Denver Broncos, putting Jay Cutler in the shotgun. First off, first down. Look, we got four guys spread out. It has to catch them off guard. And then you put him in the shotgun. That helps, because the Broncos worried about pass protection.>>Alexander, the former Charger for two years, caught that but stepped out. And on third — or second down from the 47, just a yard for Tatum Bell this time. Running into Donnie Edwards. Fresh off a 20-tackle performance at Buffalo last week.>>Well, the linebacking corps for the San Diego Chargers — it is terrific. It’s deep. It’s big. It’s strong. Donnie Edwards has savvy. He’s a veteran. They got it all. That’s why this team is one of the favorites in the NFL, right now, to go the Super Bowl.>>Kircus and Marshall the extra receivers. Back to the gun on third and 8. And Cutler with time. Now throws. And the pass deflected. Incomplete. Intended for Rod Smith, but broken up by Florence.>>Boy, you talk — Good protection that time for Jay Cutler. He actually gets a second look down the field to determine if the receiver — Rod Smith, in the slot — if he’s open or not. Drayton Florence — underrated, terrific athlete, and is able to cover that inside receiver very well.>>Ernster in to punt to Eric Parker. After picking up a couple of first downs, on two good-looking passes, it breaks down just inside San Diego territory. And the Chargers, with the fair catch, will bring out Rivers, Tomlinson, and crew at the 17-yard line. We are back at Qualcomm. Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, the CBS team. Denver and San Diego. And the Chargers’ first offensive snap. And it goes to Tomlinson, who is decked for a loss of 2 by Ebenezer Ekuban. Rivers the man leading this high-potent offense that leads the league in scoring. McNeill, the rookie from Auburn, second-rounder, on the left side. Played this season after breaking both hands. Tomlinson — I talked about Rivers leading. Well, Tomlinson, in many minds, is the leading figure in the league this season, the MVP. Second down and 12. And Rivers is gonna go long. The man is open. It’s Vincent Jackson, who starts today. And he brings it down to the Denver 47. Jackson, starting today for McCardell, picks up 35 yards.>>You want to be aggressive on defense, this is what you do. Right out of the bat, just a little move. Darrent Williams goes for the fake, thinking he’s reading the quarterback, tried to look through the receiver to Philip Rivers. What a throw by Rivers under heavy pressure. But that will back the defensive backs off and it will make the defense play a little more conservative.>>So, Rivers with the big hookup. The 35. And he goes back to the ground and Tomlinson. Only a yard this time. The Denver defense has not allowed an opening-drive touchdown this season. Along with Carolina, the only two to do that. But early here, it’s the Chargers driving on them. You saw Lang on that line. Wilson with the neck sprain last week. He’s in there today. And John Lynch, San Diego kid, grew up just up the road. Torrey Pines High School. Former season-ticket holder. Well, the family was. Used to go to all the games as a young boy, hoping to one day play in this league. And what a career he’s had. Perhaps a Hall of Fame career. Osgood in a slot to the right on second down and 9.>>He got it off.>>And, again, just a yard. That’s three carries. There’s Marty Schottenheimer, directing the Chargers to their best record at this point of a season since 1961. They’re 10-2. Just beating the play clock on third down. Rivers rips it. Knocked down by Cox. He was trying to go back to Jackson, who had the big-gainer to bring them into Denver territory.>>Denver’s defense does a good job. They fake blitzes a lot. And this time, it’s just a — It’s a good matchup for the San Diego Chargers, a wide receiver coming across the field against the safety, Curome Cox. So, nice job waiting. Does not hit the receiver too early as he knocks it down.>>Scifres in to punt. He had a touchback last week, which snapped a remarkable run of 38 consecutive punts without a touchback. So, both teams advancing to about the other side’s 45 before the series is shut down. And Scifres has the coverage, with Osgood down the field. And that will bring Cutler out to the 6. 39-yard punt. Scifres getting it done. This is something that has saddled the Broncos this season. Worst starting position, on average, in the league. And this is 20 worse than their average. Back at the 6. And a fumble on the snap. Cutler still can’t get the handle. And then recovered, back at the 2-yard line, by Tatum Bell. This is a concern here, the exchange between Tom Nalen and Cutler.>>Well, Jim, we talked to Jay Cutler last night about it. He had not taken snaps from Tom Nalen in practice until he was named the starter. And he says he’s quick. He snaps it really hard. And it took some getting used to. But after a week of practice and a game and a second week of practice, that should be worked out.>>Second down and 14. They go with the run. For only a yard, maybe 2. Now, when you’re the backup, you’re taking snaps with the backup center. In this case, it would be Ben Hamilton. But when you’re elevated to the first team, as he was a week ago, now you’ve got to adjust that exchange between Nalen and Cutler. And he says it’s quick, and it’s a forceful snap.>>And now he’s got to get that snap with crowd noise — something new for him.>>It will be third and 13. Operating at the 4. And that was intended for Bell, but Edwards was closing in on him, anyway, along with Quentin Jammer.>>Out of your own end zone, on the road, this is tough for a rookie quarterback. And Jay Cutler — good decision. Throws it to the running back coming out of the backfield. But, sometimes, you find, in the NFL, those passes have to be exact. You got to throw them with a little pace to give the running back a chance.>>All right, Ernster from the back of the end zone. With pressure, got it away. End over end. Parker has to retreat to the 47. Tries to get the side. No. He is tumbled by Hamza Abdullah. 43-yard punt and a 4-yard runback. Tell you — Parker looked like he might find a way to get around that right side. And he is somersaulted down at the 45. Partly-cloudy day here. Rained overnight, but passed on through. We’re in the 60s. We’re in the first quarter. No score. Second drive of the game for the Chargers. Starts at the 44-yard line. And here’s Tomlinson making a player miss. And cutting to the outside. Down to the 27. Foxworth finally dragging him down. He was able to break away from D.J. Williams and gain 17.>>Jim, it goes back to almost what we said at the start of the game. You just turn around and you just keep giving it to LaDainian Tomlinson, because he is your weapon. He makes big plays. And not many teams in the National Football League can say, “Hey, we can hand it off and get scoring plays by getting those explosive plays down the field, 20 and 30 yards. A running back like him — he can do it.>>Leads the league in rushing. Over 100 his last six games. And there’s the open target. It’s Gates for another first down, at the 14. Bailey and Lynch on the coverage.>>Chargers do a lot of things. Top of your screen, you’ll see him go outside. But look at the coverage. One guy in the middle because why? Because you worry about the runner. And when you do that, it makes the passing game really simple. You know it’s gonna be a lot of one-on-ones. Antonio Gates wide open to the outside because of the threat of the run.>>The big run by Tomlinson, pass play to Gates, and the Chargers are threatening at the 14. It’s Tomlinson trying to wiggle through that defensive front. Gains 2. He’s two off the single-season mark, established last year by Shaun Alexander. This is not what they call the red zone here, but the gold zone. And, boy, have they been efficient this year inside the 20, inside the gold zone. Second and 8. And Rivers to the end zone. And it’s brought down for the touchdown. It’s Antonio Gates boxing out, shielding two defenders, and scoring the touchdown.>>Jim, you said the right phrase. It’s the box-out. The Chargers — they think they have it. They got three defenders, the cover 2. Champ Bailey falls off of his guy on the inside, but the size and the strength of Antonio Gates — that’s a big factor in the NFL when it comes to throwing the football.>>His basketball skills certainly coming out right there. They had Williams and Bailey on the coverage, the two corners. But he’s gonna pull that down, the rebound, or, in this case, the touchdown.>>Watch Champ Bailey. Here he is. Here’s Antonio Gates as he goes inside. Champ Bailey correctly sees his man go in. He goes, “Let him go.” Free up, read the quarterback. Everything is perfect just how you design it. But he doesn’t factor in — and nobody would — the size and strength. Antonio Gates just says, “Get out of the way, little guy.” And, Jim, you said it right. It’s like a guard trying to go in and get a rebound against a power forward. With a power forward’s girth — Is that a good way to say it?>>Yeah, perfect.>>Just kind of knocked him out of the way.>>He averaged 21 points and 8 rebounds a game at Kent State. Came within one game of going to the Final Four. That was his senior stats, those magnificent numbers. It’s Clark on the return. Grabbed by the ankles and hit high at the 18. So, again, Cutler has to walk out there, break huddle with a poor starting position. Last time, it was the 6. This time, it’s the 18.>>Sees the blitz. Lets everybody know. [ Whistle blows ]>>And flags are flying, as the blitz was on the way.>>False start — number 64, offense. 5-yard penalty. Remains first down.>>Here on first and 15, it’s not going to work out, either, on that right side for Bell. Jamal Williams with the tackle. Second down. Cutler, long ball with coverage. And it’s almost picked. Outstanding effort by Drayton Florence. Javon Walker was Cutler’s target, but Florence was with him step for step. And he’s shaken up.>>Couple good things. Really, a terrific throw by Jay Cutler down the field. They want to do this more often. And we said it already, Jim. Drayton Florence a little shook up on the play. But he is a tremendous athlete. We talked to Marlon McCree, and he goes, “Wow. He can do it all.” And you know he’s pretty good when they draft a guy, Antonio Cromartie, from Florida State, first round, corner, and you hold off those first-rounders from getting in the lineup tells you you’re playing well.>>Yeah, McCree, the safety, says he’s the best athlete he’s ever played with, talking about Florence. In his fourth year. And there’s Cromartie, the first-rounder from Florida State, in the lineup on third and 15. From the gun. Pressure up the middle. Ball is on the turf. And it may — In fact, it was, for the second time in this quarter, recovered by Tatum Bell. Shaun Phillips could have had it. It was stripped by Merriman.>>You have to — I’m sorry, Jim. You have to throw the football in rhythm when you’re playing a team that can rush the passer like the San Diego Chargers. And Jay Cutler tries to move around to get a second look, and there is not gonna be time. That causes a fumble. Also, when you move, in the NFL as a quarterback, you better put two hands on the football.>>Phillips had a play on the recovery, but Tatum Bell alertly falling on it for the second time, saving a fumble — a lost fumble. Ernster off the side of the foot. Gets the favorable bounce. And Parker has no option but to step out at his own 45. Here’s what we’re talking about. Look at the ball. And, you know, Phillips trying to pick it up, thinking he might be able to run it all the way in. Gave Bell a chance to recover it.>>He did the right thing. Small guys pick it up. Fat guys fall on it. And Phillips — he’s a linebacker. He’s considered a small guy in space.>>Rivers comes out with the big play-action fake. Looks down the field. And Gates is having a huge quarter. He advances it inside the Denver 30.>>The pass — Every team in the league throws this type of pass almost every single week. But, again, hard to do it. And everybody always says, “Well, the Chargers — they got everything, but the wide receiver are — They’re not catching enough balls and making enough plays.” You know why? ‘Cause they got to hand it off and they got to throw the football to Antonio Gates. And he is running the route, down the field, that most wide receivers get in offenses.>>Gates with 3 of Rivers’ 4 completions, for 51 yards and a touchdown.>>Trips.>>Back to Tomlinson. Tripped up by D.J. Williams. And a loss of a yard. Al Wilson in on that, also.>>Yeah, what I was saying, Jim — And everybody always looks — When you look at the Chargers, all the numbers are good. But you go, “Oh, but the wide receivers, the starters — no touchdown catches.” And I just go, “So what?” You know, LaDainian Tomlinson is gonna — They’re gonna hand it to him. He’s gonna run it in. So you get no catches. And then when they design passing plays, they usually start with the tight end, Antonio Gates, and work their way away from him after that.>>When Tomlinson has 26 touchdowns, there’s not a lot left over. It’s back to Gates. And he is about a yard shy of the first. You consider that Tomlinson, with his 26 touchdowns — there are 17 teams in the league, coming in to this week, that didn’t have 26 touchdowns. 17 teams.>>And that’s why everything is designed through the running back and, like I said, Antonio Gates. And here we are in the first quarter. Still 1:30, basically, to go. And I’ve watched Antonio Gates wide left, wide right, inside, in the backfield, going in motion. So it’s tough to get a handle on where he is gonna be.>>This is third and 1 coming up. That was a second-down pass play. Here comes Neal up the middle. And easily has the first.>>What happened late in their game a few weeks ago, as the game wore on, the Chargers — the offensive line started taking control. And they’ve done it early here. Philip Rivers — I don’t know how he — He had a way of saying, “Oh, that offensive line — they’re nasty. They like to fight.” And always be wary of people who just like the action. And, well, they have to, Jim. That’s why they run the football so well.>>Broncos’ “D” looked a little confused on that last one on third and short. Now first and 10. Tomlinson trying to cut it outside. And able to break away. And, finally, hits the sideline at the 5. He, this time, side-stepped Darrent Williams.>>The Bronco corners — they’re pretty good tacklers, Champ Bailey and Darrent Williams. But you know what? Little different again. A fast guy with Darrent Williams’ size almost always brings down a running back in that situation. He barely even touched LaDainian Tomlinson.>>They’re back well inside this so-called gold zone. There’s the ball. Hey, it’s going to Neal. Neal taking it around the left side! And Neal is in! The old Bumerooski!>>Well, you got Wade Phillips, Bum Phillips’ son, defensive coordinator.>>Tribute to his dad, the great coach of the Houston Oilers, Bum Phillips. They call the play the Bumerooski.>>Look at Marty Schottenheimer. Well, it worked. He’s happy about that. It looked really good in practice the other day, too. And I got to give a lot of credit to the center, Nick Hardwick, because I believe that’s the hardest thing about the play — snapping it softly and perfectly to Philip Rivers.>>Extra point. Kaeding — 118 consecutive makes. And the Chargers with the big 14-0 lead over the Broncos, first quarter.>>Here’s Philip Rivers squatting down. Watching him go, they’re going, “What’s going on?” But the focus has to be on LaDainian Tomlinson. The snap. He hands it to Lorenzo Neal. And, really, a pretty good reaction by the Denver Broncos’ defense. Lorenzo Neal — he is just determined.>>Bounces right off D.J. Williams. Had Manumaleuna out there helping, a lead block, Dielman.>>Oh, Philip Rivers an emotional quarterback. He loves it. Trust me, Philip — they weren’t worried about you keeping it, going down around the other side. But it really worked well in practice, looked good here in the game.>>Well, this is the Broncos’ worst nightmare — down 14 on the road with a rookie quarterback. And Clark. Not a whole lot of room, but able to at least, this time, get it across the 20, to the 25, to close out the first quarter. Cutler with his hands full now, down 14-0 after one. On first down, it’s Bell. He’s got big running lanes! To the 50 with one man to beat. Bell taking off! Look at the speed, the explosion. And, just like that… Oh, they’re gonna say, back at the 24, he stepped out. They’re giving him 51 yards because they’re gonna say, as Marlon McCree was bearing down on him, he stepped out. Well, he’s definitely out that second step. Oh.>>Tatum Bell trying to walk the tightrope. He could feel the pressure of Marlon McCree coming at him, so he was trying to get every inch he could and just hits the sideline.>>Nonetheless, Broncos with the big play to the 24-yard line. Mike Bell in the backfield. He gets the handle. And he takes off for 8 yards of his own. I was gonna say, Phil, ever since San Diego pulled the reversal on the Broncos up at Invesco, this is now a stretch for San Diego outscoring Denver 42-3. 28-3 at the end of that game, after being down 17.>>Chargers — Well, Jim, Chargers number one in the NFL in scoring offense. They are able to shut offenses down, at times, completely because of the talent they have on the defensive side.>>And here comes the blitz again. And a loss of a yard. Third and 3. Throwing. And connects short of the first. Rod Smith twisted, thrown down by Quentin Jammer.>>Let’s go!>>Only picks up a yard.>>The Broncos — look at the formation. They come with a little different formation, trying to create some space so they can get Rod Smith off the line of scrimmage and get the first down. But good reaction by Quentin Jammer — not only seeing it, but being big enough and strong enough to make the tackle and avoid Denver getting the first down.>>34-yard field-goal try for Elam. And Elam right down the middle. Remember, he had a sore hamstring after running for a first down last week. Tatum Bell’s 51-yard run, almost going the distance, but tiptoeing out of bounds, trying to escape McCree’s chase. Leads to an Elam field goal. Ernster out to kick it off. Fielded kind of high. Cromartie. And look at him run. In full stride for a while. And then, finally, with traffic. Brought down by Paymah at the 47. A big runback, giving them excellent starting position after a 45-yard return.>>All you hear from these Charger teammates — even though Antonio Cromartie is not starting, they are just wowed by his athletic ability. And we saw him out here, before the game, catching kickoffs and running. I go, “My gosh. Who is that?”>>Didn’t have his uniform on. You said, “Who is that?”>>He looks like he can win the Olympic gold medal in the 100 meters. That’s how fast he looks.>>Looked like he could cover 50 yards in just a flash. Saw a little bit of it right there. Cromartie putting the Chargers near midfield.>>There goes Antonio Gates. Let’s line him up outside one more time.>>They’ve driven for touchdowns the last two series. And up top. Manumaleuna. And into the secondary, to the 39. Gain of 14. Working on Foxworth.>>Well, they just do a lot, this San Diego offense. They move people around. And they did it that time. The shifting. Antonio Gates going outside, the guy going in motion. It just creates enough confusion on defense where it allows big tight ends to go over the middle and be wide open.>>There’s the rookie left tackle, Marcus McNeill. And he’s out.>>I think his helmet came down and hit his nose, Jim. He was grabbing his face as he was running off the field.>>First down and 10. Tomlinson hit at the line. Falls forward for 2 yards. At left tackle, taking the place of McNeill, is Cory Lekkerkerker.>>Excuse me?>>[ Chuckles ] And, believe it or not, that was not a stutter. Here’s the pass down the field. And it’s caught by Parker. Almost had his first touchdown of the season. Darrent Williams.>>Darrent Williams just did not play the ball well. He was not fooled. He sees it. Watch him on the top of your screen. A little double move. He makes it up. The ball’s in the air, and he misjudges it and he allows Eric Parker to make the catch. That’s called playing the ball while it’s in the air, and it makes it really hard for defensive backs. Eric Parker excited about it. But when the ball’s in the air, defensive backs have a tendency to freeze. So when you throw it high and long, they make mistakes.>>Is it time for another Tomlinson touchdown? First and goal. Tomlinson bobbing and weaving and trying to squeeze through. He’s got it about halfway there. Just got McNeill back on the left side after missing two plays.>>And, Jim, the Chargers — Cam Cameron, the offensive coordinator — they’re smart. They see that the Denver defense is cheating against the run, so they’re throwing these long passes down the field. Hey, and these guys know — They’re kind of trained that that’s gonna be a big part of their game, to catch long passes because people try to stop the running game.>>Crowd with a little chant, anticipating an “L.T.” score. Second and goal. And L.T. is in for number 27 on the season. That’s one off matching the record of Alexander.>>Even though you know it’s coming — Everybody in this stadium knows who’s gonna get the football. And it’s done pretty well by the Denver defense. But they’ve done it a lot of times, and they’re used to finding little cracks to get the touchdowns.>>Pulls even with Priest Holmes, 2003 season. And he’s still got 3 1/2 games to go. That’s 7 touchdowns in the last 8 drives by the Chargers against the Broncos, going back to the game a few weeks back. Boy, he barely crossed that plane, broke the plane, as Lynch and D.J. Williams and Al Wilson were all there to meet him near the goal line. Did he, in fact, get in? I think he did. He’s got to just cross that imaginary plane. 21-3, San Diego. We are back in Charger Land. And, again, a San Diego win today would give them the division title and move them into the first-seed position in the AFC with three games to go. Tomlinson, with all of these touchdowns — he’s got a stretch going, too, of multiple-touchdown games. Six consecutive, in fact, multi-touchdown games. The NFL season record is John Riggins with seven. Seven games scoring at least twice, while Tomlinson’s done this in a row. 56 days to go here on CBS. We lost one of our great ones, Bob Dailey, this weekend. Passed away yesterday. He directed Super Bowl I on CBS and many other huge events. A big loss. Here’s Cutler. In traffic, trying to hit his fellow rookie Tony Scheffler. And Cooper — Hit the back of Cooper’s uniform. We saw a shot of Marty Schottenheimer coming out of that Super Bowl. Boy, would he love to go ahead and advance to that point. 196 wins without ever appearing in a Super Bowl. He’s four wins away from becoming just the fifth coach to reach 200 wins in the regular season.>>But that tells me he is a terrific coach, of course. It’s a bad stigma to have when people say you can’t win the big game.>>That’s Bell getting up to the 27. The coaches with at least 200 wins — Shula, Halas, Landry, and Lambeau.>>You know, Jim, it does — it kind of gets me upset sometimes. And you bring Marty Schottenheimer’s name up, and people will say, “Oh!” You know, they start moaning and groaning. And you know how hard — And you understand. And we talk to coaches every week. How hard it is to win a game in the National Football League. He’s won 196 regular-season games. He’s pretty good at what he does.>>He’s charging down the sideline as his defense tries to shut down Denver on third and 4. And the Broncos fire it in there for the first down. To Javon Walker for 9 yards. On that point after, a little injury. Mruczkowski, of the Chargers — he, with a knee injury, has been taken to the locker room.>>You said it. Jay Cutler fires it in there. And the wide receivers and running backs, all of them — second week working with him should make them more adept at catching his football, because he does throw it hard. He sees it. Mike Shanahan says he can focus downfield, and he lets it go.>>On first down, it’s Mike Bell. In traffic. Spinning out to the 42-yard line. And you saw it — they have four first downs, while Kaeding has been out to kick it off four times already in the game. Not a good sign for the Broncos.>>Yeah. And, you know, also, as you look at this Broncos team, the defense is beat up. Al Wilson hurt last week a little, even though he’s out here today. And I got the sense, talking to Coach Shanahan last night, that they knew the Chargers’ offense was gonna score some points, so they were kind of ready for it. And if they have to be wide open for a long period of time, they’re willing to try it today with Jay Cutler.>>We saw Cutler, earlier in the game, Phil, in the shotgun. Now under center on the last two series. And it’s Bell getting the first down. Establishing this running game that first exposed itself on that last series with the long Tatum Bell –>>Well, what’s so good about it, Jim, is — You’re down, 21-3. The blocking up front is excellent. Good job by Tom Nalen, coming all the way across the formation from the center position, and freeing up the runner. But it settles the game down, settles the crowd down, gets the emotions out, and it lets the Bronco defense rest, which is probably the most important thing of all.>>Another first down, near midfield. And Tatum Bell back in. Gets the hand-off. Cuts outside. Good piece of running, as he broke away, initially, from Derreck Robinson and gains 4. Pushed out by Florence.>>This offense is different when he’s in there, because he has learned to run hard, which they just demand of you as a running back with Denver. But he is the big playmaker, probably, on the offense, along with Javon Walker.>>Second down and 6 from the San Diego 47. Cutler’s passed tipped. And then almost caught on the deflection. Walker got a hand on it, but it was first touched and tipped by Cooper, the linebacker for the Chargers.>>Experience will teach Jay Cutler something here. He reads the defense right. The receiver is gonna be open. But the linebackers, defensive backs — they know how to react. They can get their hands up. He should have taken something off the football, thrown it a little softer to the inside, and it would have been caught by Javon Walker.>>Walker’s timing thrown off with that deflection, and it then goes right through his fingertips. And another time-out called by Cutler. They’ll come out of the break with at third and 6, in San Diego territory. Down big early. 21-3. Tomlinson in, Neal’s first rushing touchdown since 2003, and Gates catching a touchdown. Jim Nantz, Phil Simms.>>Saying a lot of good stuff about the Chargers. You know what that means, doesn’t it? They’re really good.>>They are good.>>And you said it — when you came here and you started looking over all the statistics, you said to me, “Man, this is a Super Bowl team.”>>Yeah, it all adds up, if you look at both sides on the season, statistically. Third down. Cutler’s pass falls incomplete. He had players right in his face. Under heavy pressure.>>Well, Jay Cutler — We talked about it a few times. Shaun Phillips coming from the outside, getting pressure. Igor Olshansky, Cesaire, Jacques Cesaire. Everybody back there. So, find the one-on-one. It was outside for him. He didn’t see it fast enough. Find it and let it go.>>Parker’s standing at the 10-yard line. His catch of 34 yards set up the last San Diego touchdown. They would like to get a little field-position win of its own right now. And the coverage is down there, but the ball bounding into the end zone for the touchback. Just a net of 27 yards. Cutler trying to come up with some answers, ’cause San Diego’s blitzing Denver, 21-3. We’re in San Diego, about 100 miles away from our dear friend and our longtime colleague, our legendary CBS golf analyst, now retired. Ken Venturi recovering after open-heart surgery here in the last week. And just pleased to report, after so many phone calls from so many people concerned, that Kenny’s doing well. He’s home. And a full recovery expected. Wishing you all the best there, my friend. It’s a gain of 3 by Tomlinson. As the Chargers now with three straight drives for touchdowns. This time, though, beginning back at the 20. And there it is, that stretch I talked about. Phil, you go back to that last game, it’s now 49-6 since Denver had them down 24-7. Just not only turning around that, turning the whole season around, in a negative way, for the Broncos. Tomlinson trying to sweep it. And bounced out short of the first. That’s Ian Gold bouncing him out. Third and short coming up.>>As I watch this San Diego Chargers offensive line — Marty Schottenheimer, when we talked to him on Friday, he goes, “That’s been the biggest surprise, how well they have played.” But they’re starting to look like that Kansas City offensive line that was so good for so many years. They hit defenders, and it’s like they stick. The defenders can’t get off of them. That’s why they’re so good at running the ball.>>Third and a little longer than a yard. It’s Tomlinson getting outside. Getting it with ease, before Lynch pops him out.>>And that time, Jim, Marcus Spears, the left tackle, first year, second-round draft pick from Auburn. Marcus McNeill, I mean. I said “Spears.” Watch as he goes outside. Darrent Williams sees him. You’ve got to go down. Right thing to do — try to go down and under and maybe make a play that way. But there’s your left tackle, who should just be a pass protector but athletic enough to be able to pull and get out and make blocks for the running game.>>Chargers have not been flagged for a penalty, have not allowed a sack, no giveaways, and Rivers operating with a perfect quarterback rating here in the second quarter. And now it’s Pinnock. Out to the 50-yard line. He’s a backup not only to Neal, but with Michael Turner inactive today, he’ll also back up Tomlinson. And he burst through for 15 yards.>>How about that? See the defense is not cheating. They don’t have the extra guy up inside. And when they don’t cheat, they are knocking ’em all over the place.>>Well, after the first series, picked up one first down and just got into Denver territory. They punted. And then three touchdown drives. Right at the 50 and another first down. Tomlinson’s still out. Back to Pinnock. And he bounces around for 4 yards. Warren and others push him back. Lynch has ahold of him. Rivers completes another one, to Neal, who hammers ahead with Lynch holding on.>>Well, Jim, go back to that Jet-Buffalo game. Two big plays by the Buffalo Bills’ offense — And we’ve done the Jets a few times this year, and what’s really impressed me — that they don’t even give a hint of giving up those big plays. So big surprise to see it happen. They’re as hot as anybody in the NFL, too, the Jets have been the last few weeks.>>It was interesting with five teams in the AFC coming in at 7-5, all in that wild-card hunt. Those five teams kind of sharing the wild-card position. Jacksonville and Cincinnati have already won today. Kansas City lost. While the Jets and Denver, right now, in action. And there’s a time-out called by Rivers. Their first time-out used in this game. 3 minutes to go, first half. Well, just another perfect day in San Diego. Almost, that quarterback rating aside. Other than that — And it’s third down and short on the way.>>If I didn’t hear anything about the quarterback ratings for the rest of my life, I think it would make me a happier person.>>It’s become the hot — Back when you played, they didn’t even have the calculation.>>[ Sarcastically ] ‘Cause that determines how good you are.>>Third down and 2. [ Whistles blowing ] And movement on the right side. It looked like 86, Manumaleuna.>>False start — number 70, offense. 5-yard penalty. Remains third down.>>All I know about quarterback ratings is that, you know, you care about the one stat, and that is the “W.” And you go in that Super Bowl and you complete 22 of 25, 88%, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions, and it was not a perfect quarterback rating.>>I didn’t know that.>>You came up a few points short. I’m sure you’ve lost sleep.>>I’m still mad about the two drops.>>[ Laughing ] Third down and 7. Should have fired them in there a little — right in the heart.>>I can’t do it all.>>Third-down pass to Manumaleuna. And he’s not going to be stopped with one guy. Can’t just put a hand on him. Domonique Foxworth was one of the players that had a shot. But 18 yards later, the Chargers continue their drive.>>You know, there’s so many things that I see with my own eyes here today that kind of show up on TV and then when you watch film of these two teams. One is — the San Diego Chargers, they’re good, but they are big, they are physical, and they overpower you. And that’s the biggest difference of these two teams. And you can see the size difference here. Manumaleuna — he doesn’t even have any pads in his pants. But he doesn’t need them, at the size he is. But the Chargers — big and physical. They’re bullies. And that’s what they’re good at.>>And that is Tomlinson slashing to the 24-yard line. That was a 108-pound advantage Manumaleuna had on Foxworth. And he took advantage. And the Chargers are driving again. It’s a second and 5, as San Diego managing yet another impressive drive. Asking Jackson to shift to that left side. They work Tomlinson off the right, where he is brought down by D.J. Williams about a yard short of the first. Third and a short 2. And the pitch outside to Tomlinson. And, finally, Foxworth able to get him by the ankles. But another 7 yards.>>Now, they’re good. They can do all the simple things really well. But they — I don’t want to say trick it up, but they keep you off guard just enough with formations and plays that you don’t expect. And that was one of them right there. A little counter, and it catches the defense by surprise. And, best of all, it gets one of their best players in open space.>>So, a first down at the 12-yard line, and another gold-zone opportunity here for San Diego. And a whistle first.>>Time-out, San Diego.>>Well, they had a stretch of 15 straight touchdowns in the gold zone snapped last week. And there’s that gold zone we spoke about. That 15-touchdown stretch in the gold zone was the longest in the league in 15 years. Came to an end last week at Buffalo, but they’re back to their magic again today. And Rivers lobs it long. Intended for Manumaleuna.>>Anytime you see a team that’s that good in the gold zone, red zone, green zone, whatever you want to call it, that tells you that they can run the football at will, because that’s why you get it in the end zone — with running plays and deception, because the field is tighter, tougher to do certain things. And when you have a good running game, you can be more deceptive, and it allows wide receivers to get open. And Cam Cameron, you know, mixes it up very well. They are not predictable on offense. That’s for sure.>>20 of the last 21 times inside the 20 producing touchdowns. On second down and 10, rolling right. Rivers running out of real estate. Finds a man. It’s Vincent Jackson. It’ll be third and about 5 on the way with 28 seconds to go in the half.>>You know, it’s a good job by Philip Rivers. Just keeps going with the flow. And they’re trying to throw it to the right corner, but then, on the back side, Eric Parker — John Lynch, good job of doubling the wide receiver. But, again, moving the pocket, something different just to keep you on the defensive side a little off-balance. And, sometimes, that’s the difference between touchdowns and trying to kick field goals.>>Kassim Osgood in. Four receivers in all. Shotgun time.>>Let’s see if they got something different here.>>Rivers throws it up for grabs! And it’s pulled down by Gates again, with Lynch appealing to a teammate — “Hey, somebody help me out.” Gates with a second touchdown in the game.>>Good recognition by Philip Rivers. It’s a blitz by the Broncos’ defense. And it’s just knowing your personnel and listening to your coaches, what to do. If it’s a blitz, you got the big guy against John Lynch. “The big guy,” of course is Antonio Gates. Lob it up there, and he will not do you wrong.>>Both of his touchdowns very similar, weren’t they? Kaeding adds the extra point, and now 28-3.>>It’s the blitz. And Gates comes out. Oh, nice little stutter move. John Lynch not fooled. But, Jim, again — that was a tremendous shot of it — it’s just the size of Antonio Gates that makes the difference, because he runs into John Lynch. And, really, if it’s anything, it’s offensive pass interference, because John Lynch had established his ground. He was there first. But the size, how big he is — And Philip Rivers, this man knows how to celebrate. Look at him.>>He gives you the great cutaway shot.>>Hey, you know, and we laughed about this. Throwing a touchdown pass — I threw a couple — it’s an exciting thing. And you should get excited. It’s okay.>>This is the same Denver defense that, at the beginning of the year — remember, Phil? — gave up only field goals in an opening loss to St. Louis. Beat Kansas City without allowing a touchdown. Held the Patriots on the road, up at New England, to a touchdown.>>Again, the size, the power — that’s what I see watching this game.>>It’s Clark again. And no seam to find. He was on the phone with Rivers, his old North Carolina State teammate, earlier this week. He said, “Don’t score too much. Don’t give me too many chances to return one, ’cause I’ll run one back.” Well, he’s getting his chances. And, again, the AFC playoff picture, as it’s unfolding today, with the Colts losing, Baltimore winning at Kansas City, and New England — How about the way New England was manhandled down in Miami? So, if the Chargers win today — and they’re up, 28-3 — they will be in control, at the present time, of the first seed.>>Yes. And I know this — if we come back here for a playoff game, I’m not gonna gain any weight between now and then.>>Why’s that?>>’Cause I wouldn’t make it into this booth if I did. It’s a little tight up here.>>Better stop eating those hamburgers, like the three you knocked off last night.>>I mean, I like you, but I don’t like standing close to you.>>It is a bit cozy. And that’s gonna be it for the Broncos. The end of the first half, with San Diego in front, 28-3. Tomlinson walking off after another touchdown today, giving him 27 on the season. Gates pulls in two of his own. Neal rushes for one. And Rivers and the San Diego faithful loving it at this point. You’re watching the NFL on CBS, home of Super Bowl XLI. Well, the second-half kickoff will be headed toward the San Diego Chargers’ Antonio Cromartie. This game brought to you in high-definition television. [ Whistle blows ] Cromartie with a 45-yard return. His only other touch was the only bright spot of that first half, the field goal by Elam. Actually was set up by a bright spot, a run by Tatum Bell. But, Cromartie, this time — nothing really to run with. 17-yard return. Well, you’ve been saying it. You know, we saw the Chargers in a preseason game against Chicago. But all week, “Hey, I can’t wait to see what they look like in person.” What do you think?>>I’m impressed.>>Okay.>>You know, ’cause this is not like they’re, you know, beating some college football team here. They’ve been overpowering, and I thought that’s what I found out from them on Friday. They believed they could come out here today and overpower the Denver Broncos, and they’ve done it. That’s something that’s very hard to do in the NFL. So that’s impressive. It is the best performance I’ve seen by a team in person since we did the Chicago Bears in week 4 or 5 against the Buffalo Bills.>>And that was a runaway win by the Bears that day. And it is a Tomlinson run to open up the third quarter. Picks up 4 yards. And, well, we won’t talk about that passer rating you’re not a big fan of, but the first downs — 15-5.>>Total domination. And let me just clarify that passer rating just one more — It’s not that I’m against it. It’s overused.>>It’s overemphasized.>>You know, it’s amazing — the really good teams, their quarterbacks have good passer ratings most of the time. I wonder why that is.>>I’m not a stat fan at all, but I really don’t like stats when I know I can’t calculate them at home myself. If it’s something I don’t know what the formula is, how am I supposed to interpret it? There is that pass broken up by Foxworth.>>Seven consecutive winning seasons for Philip Rivers. That’s pretty impressive. Played for his father in high school. At North Carolina State, they did a terrific job on the offensive side.>>Third down. And they were trying to set up a little screen, but Gerard Warren was out there in the area of Tomlinson. And it’s a three-and-out for the Chargers to open up the second half.>>Well, something that the Denver defense couldn’t do to them in the first half. So, when you want to make a big rally, when you think the game is not over — and, of course, it’s not — you want to get off to a good start in the second half. Stop them in three plays. Now you look to come out, be explosive, aggressive on the offensive side.>>So, Rivers, who had two incompletions the entire first half, with two misfires on that series. Don’t read too much into it. Scifres, though, brought out for the second time. [ Whistle blows ] And the fair catch by Darrent Williams at the 30. 45-yard boot. Cutler gets another chance to show his stuff when we come back. Well, on the sidelines, Jake Plummer coming back to see the action. He was over giving a little nod, a little word of encouragement to the defense. We saw, on that last series, on the sidelines, trying to encourage them to make a play, and they did. As the Broncos hand it to Tatum Bell. No gain. On the slant, it’s a hookup to Walker for a first down. You know, Cutler — When we visited with Jay Cutler last night, had a lot of great things to say about Jake Plummer and how great he’s been to him — words that he put it — on the sideline, with all those constant little reminders. He also — Talking about Plummer. This is from the words of Cutler. Went to the coaches this week and said, “Hey, you know, those three-step drops for Jay might be a little tough. Might want to give him a little more room.” Here’s Bell.>>Well, that’s my new pet peeve in the NFL, Jim, is three-step drops, because as I watch games — Even today, before ours, as I watch it, everybody in the league is getting so good, the defensive backs defending them, but the worst thing is that defensive linemen are tipping them at an alarming rate. And it might have been the difference between them winning and losing last week, the Denver Broncos, because that last interception was a three-step drop that was tipped in the air.>>Jay Cutler — you saw his numbers at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt really the only college that offered him a chance to play at quarterback coming out of Heritage Hills High School. And breaking tackles — Tatum Bell still not hitting the ground. Broke away from Merriman, Donnie Edwards, and gains 4 yards.>>Well, everything is tough right now, I think, for the Denver Broncos. And they got the screen set up. It looks good. Merriman kind of disrupts the timing. And everybody nipping at the heels of Tatum Bell. So, picking up a few yards. Have to do a lot of good things to get it done.>>Brandon Marshall comes into that huddle. He broke a long one last week for a touchdown against Seattle. Four receivers. Shotgun time. And a blitz. Cutler, pass. What a grab it was by Marshall. We just mentioned him coming in. Gain of 13 and a first.>>You saw Brandon Marshall, last week, take a short pass and go for the touchdown. He’s big. He’s physical. And, Jim, you said it right — what a grab in between three defenders, high and to the inside. No worries. Reach up there and pull it down. Hard to do. A rookie showing the courage and the toughness to go in the middle and make a tough catch.>>Mike Bell in the lineup. Cutler stays in the gun. And that’s over to Rod Smith. We got a flag down. Might be a face-mask call against San Diego, I’ve got to think.>>It’s a nice change-up by the Broncos, going four wide receivers on first down. They know when they do that, it’s gonna limit what the defense is gonna do.>>Face mask — defense. 5-yard penalty. Result of the penalty, first down.>>Nice, quick screen play to the outside. Drayton Florence reaches up, just grabs the face mask, but lets it go quickly. That’s why it’s only a 5-yard, instead of 15 yards.>>It’ll move the football inside the 30, to the 28. And on this three-step-drop issue, Cutler saying, last night, how much he would desire to do more five-, seven-step drops to get a chance to survey a little bit. And this gun certainly provides that chance, too. First down. With time. And now they collapse on him. Got away from Cesaire. Throwing to the end zone. Scheffler’s there! And the rookie has it. Rookie to rookie for the touchdown.>>Probably the one thing that came out of that game last week, I didn’t agree with everybody. I didn’t think Jay Cutler looked like a deer in headlights and all those great things we say. I thought he was composed. It didn’t go real well, as far as the outcome, but he showed athletic ability. He moved around. That’s what surprised me more than anything — that he’s a little faster than you realize, not afraid to get outside and make those throws.>>So, Tony Scheffler, second-round pick from Western Michigan, has his first NFL touchdown. Cutler had four completions in the first half. He was 5 for 5 on that drive alone and the touchdown pass. The Broncos have found the end zone for the first time today. Cutler, 28 yards, to Scheffler. The first pass for Cutler today, the first completion, over 15 yards. Cromartie. And another rookie in action here, their first-rounder. High-stepping and fumbling. There is a flag, and I believe it’s going against San Diego, anyway. And the Broncos have recovered. Louis Green with the recovery. Paymah stripped it away.>>Holding — number 34 of the receiving team. The penalty is declined. The result of the play — first down, Denver.>>Well, well. This could get interesting in a hurry. It was Paymah who knocked it loose, and Green with the recovery.>>When you have a lead, everybody on the team must know how to manage that lead. That means coaches, players, quarterback. Returners know that the only thing — almost the only thing that can cause you to lose the game is a big turnover, especially a fumble on a return.>>Hey, let’s give the guy who knocked it loose credit. It actually was Hamza Abdullah.>>Yes.>>Abdullah knocked it away. He’s had a couple of fine efforts on special teams today. So, Abdullah stripped, and the Broncos right back out there, this time from the 27. Cutler with time. Going for the quick strike back to Scheffler. And it’s incomplete. Almost picked by Florence.>>Yeah, don’t get caught up in the excitement if you’re a young quarterback. Still try to be methodical and throw it to the open guy. This time, down the field, the tight end is double-covered. And Jay Cutler lucky that Drayton Florence doesn’t intercept it.>>And Scheffler doing a good job of defending, if you will.>>That’s right. If you can’t catch it, make sure the defense doesn’t catch it.>>Now the crowd stirred, trying to encourage this Charger defense that’s just given up the first touchdown of the day to the Broncos. Cutler with the zip. And it’s Alexander with the catch and a first down at the 11. 16 yards. Alexander slow to get up.>>You know, Jim, watch Jay Cutler’s throwing motion. Just rears back and just lets it go. And we talked to him last night, and I asked him some questions. High-school sports — what did you play? He goes, “I was a shortstop on the baseball team.” I said, “Yes. It makes sense.” He throws it like a baseball — rears back. Pretty big arm action, but a lot of velocity and right on target. Stephen Alexander.>>Yeah, his leg got tangled up at the end with Terrence Kiel.>>Here’s Stephen Alexander right here. Safety in the middle. Good job by Jay Cutler of not avoiding the tight end. He stays with his first read, even though, when he’s under center, it doesn’t look like he’s gonna come open. That enables him to get the big play down the field.>>And Alexander walked off, has the helmet on, ready to return. First-down pass to the end zone! And bounces around. Caught again by Scheffler! Tipped up in the air. Got it away from Terrence Kiel to make the play on it and bring it in for another score. Two touchdowns in 48 seconds, both Cutler to Scheffler. All set up, this time, by the Cromartie fumble on the kick return.>>Well, if you thought the Denver Broncos should have intercepted a pass earlier, how about this one? Jay Cutler throws it behind. Terrence Kiel misses the interception. Result into a touchdown.>>And Elam adds one more. Suddenly, 28-17. Scheffler tips it over, away from Kiel, brings it in for the touchdown. A little glimpse into the future of the Denver Broncos. Cutler and Scheffler, first- and second-round picks, two touchdowns less than a minute apart. And I asked Cutler last night, “How many times have you been in the company of the legend, number 7, John Elway. He said, “Only once.” And that was at a rock concert over the summer Cutler was attending with Tony Scheffler, when they just happened to, backstage, run into John Elway.>>There he is, the rookie. He never played and he’s already backstage.>>Yeah. Back to see the Rascal Flatts and Gary Allan concert.>>You know that group, right?>>Of course. I was there, too, but I wasn’t backstage. So, they’ve moved the ball, you see, up 5 yards. Too many men on the field, on that extra-point try, by the Chargers. Assessed here, giving Ernster a chance to drive it deep. In fact, he does, through the back of the end zone. So, Chargers’ offense coming out for just the second time in this half. Three-and-out the first time. How about the effort here, the nifty play, the athletic play by Scheffler?>>Puts his hand in between Terrence Kiel’s. It hits the palm of his hand. It pops up. And athletic enough to adjust and make the catch. Look at the Charger fans in the stands. Oh, they can’t believe it.>>[ Chuckles ] I’m sure they can’t believe what’s unfolded here in the last minute. From a rout to a ballgame.>>Well, what this will do — it puts emotion and energy back into your defense. Or at least that’s what you hope.>>Put it right back in the hands of Tomlinson. And he’s stopped for no gain.>>There’s Al Wilson in the backfield. We saw Al Wilson, last week, carried off the field against the Seattle Seahawks. And practiced all week, didn’t miss any reps. And we asked Coach Shanahan last night, “Is he gonna be ready?” “Oh, yeah. He’s ready, he’s ready.” And what was Al Wilson’s comments? He didn’t want to be carried off the field, but they insisted that that’s what they were gonna do. So you have to listen to the doctor.>>The intensity for Wilson never lacking. This defense that had given up only 71 first-half points this season, low in the league, surrendering 28 today. Over to Tomlinson. And he’s a yard short of the first. Third and a yard. Foxworth running over to get the slot receiver. Up the middle. Second time Neal has delivered on short yardage. This one for 9 yards, moving the chains.>>Clever. We’ve seen it a couple times today. In short-yardage situations, they use LaDainian Tomlinson as a decoy. He runs to the offensive right. Philip Rivers hands it to Lorenzo Neal going back to the left. And if you could see the Bronco defense, defenders just took off and chased LaDainian Tomlinson. That’s why it was wide open up the middle.>>A first down for San Diego. Sending Rivers back into the shotgun. On the draw, Tomlinson. Finally smothered by Gold and Lynch. Running behind Hardwick and Goff for 7.>>So many times, they just — Nick Hardwick, the center, limping out of the game.>>And Cory Withrow — you see him, 65 — just running out there. And Hardwick’s not gonna be able to make it to the sideline. Leg giving out on him. Hardwick runs — Or Withrow runs to the sideline to take a few snaps during the break. Hardwick helped off the field, which also gave, though, his backup, Cory Withrow, an opportunity to get a few practice snaps in before this real one on second down and 3. And Rivers gets his legs tangled up and decides to take his loss. A 4-yard loss. And there you go. First time. Very first snap. And was it the center stepping on Rivers’s foot?>>Well, what happens — different center, different footwork. Philip Rivers’ right foot stepped on that time by Withrow, and takes him down. So, you’re so used to taking snaps and doing all the footwork with the starter, that does makes a difference when somebody else comes in.>>And let’s see Withrow, out of Washington State — he’s a veteran, seven years. Here’s his first shotgun snap, on third and 7. No problem there. Rivers’ throw is wide of the mark. And the Bronco defense responds again.>>Well, getting stepped on by the center, Philip Rivers — And that time, the Denver Broncos finally get some pressure and they push it back into the face of Philip Rivers, so there’s only one thing he can do is basically throw the football out of bounds.>>Scifres out for his third punt of the day. 49-yarder, 46-yarder in this game already. And this his best of the bunch. Driving Darrent Williams back to the 9 and still losing ground. And it’s a costly return. 48-yard boot. First down. Tatum Bell, short side. No gain. This game changing from, really, it could have been, at this point, all about, “Well, is Tomlinson going to tie the Alexander touchdown record or break it?”, to a competitive contest. Second down and 10. And there was a flag down. Donnie Edwards on the coverage. Trying to find Tony Scheffler.>>59.>>Pass interference — number 59, defense. Automatic first down.>>Boy, that gets the Broncos’ offense out of a jam.>>Yeah, it does. What happens here — Jay Cutler wants to throw it quick to the outside. It’s not covered. Donnie Edwards trying to — He just sees the receiver coming his way. They’re kind of taught to knock them down when they’re coming short across the field. He did not see the quarterback and the football was coming his way. But, Jim, that was a quick throw out of the shotgun, and it was a tremendous decision by Jay Cutler, ’cause trouble was lurking to the outside.>>On first down, Cutler fires it. Hits it. Walker. 32-yard line.>>That — I thought it was gonna be intercepted. And I thought you were gonna say, “And intercepted!” Because it looks like the defense sees Jay Cutler look to his right. Donnie Edwards coming. Shaun Phillips there. But that is the difference. You talk about scrambling quarterbacks. That’s what they bring to the table. Well, Jay Cutler brings the ability to throw the football into spots where most guys in the NFL playing the quarterback position — they don’t see it. They don’t try those type of throws.>>And they don’t all have that kind of velocity…>>Absolutely not.>>…to throw it in there in traffic. Setting up the screen. Bell cuts to the inside. Only 2 yards. Castillo brings him down.>>To throw it behind the receiver when he’s covered. As you know, Dan Marino started that in the NFL.>>Second down and 9. Cutler fires. And that one’s back to Scheffler. And a beautiful strike it was!>>You look at it. Jay Cutler throwing the football. Scheffler on the catch. And who’s the wide receiver there? It’s Brandon Marshall. It’s just a picture of things to come for the Denver Broncos. But, again, it’s the speed. It’s the patience of Jay Cutler waiting, because he wants to throw it down the field. He lets it develop. And then the ability to get it done is why Mike Shanahan put him in there.>>All the way to the 39 of the Chargers. Mike Bell in the backfield. Gets the run. Gets the room to pick up 8 yards. But this Tony Scheffler suddenly emerging here in the third quarter. I remember asking Shanahan about him earlier in the season, and he said that the rookie from Western Michigan — there he is — could be as good as Gonzalez someday, Tony Gonzalez. And he’s possibly even faster, right now, than Antonio Gates.>>Well, the fast part he might be, but those are some lofty expectations. But he does show the ability to make the plays down the field, and that’s what separates one tight end from the next.>>Four catches in the quarter, including two touchdowns. Bell, stutter step and driving right near the first-down yardage. Looks like he’s got it. Gives us a chance to ask you which is the greatest Super Bowl team of all time? And you can log on to nfl.com/americasgame. Vote for your choice now — greatest Super Bowl team ever. All right, Mike out, Tatum in. Rotating Bells. Cutler, in the quarter, 10 of 11. [ Whistles blowing ] And a time-out called by Denver.>>It will be a 30-second time-out.>>Well, all those second-guessers about Jay Cutler — they certainly surfaced on Sunday night. And a lot of them, I believe, just reversing the kind of undercurrent of opinion we’ve been hearing all season long. And now that first half, where you could almost see people starting to form opinions, write their columns, I wonder what they’re thinking right now.>>Well, they’re still not backtracking, ’cause the Broncos are still losing. But, Jim, the Broncos go to the AFC championship game last year with Jake Plummer as the quarterback. This year, they’re 7-4. For Mike Shanahan to make that switch — That’s what I ask people. “Do you think it was easy?” Of course not. “Do you think there was a lot of circumstances that we don’t understand, that we can’t know as a casual fan?” Well, of course not. This was a tough decision. He made it because there must be deep, true convictions about what they’re gonna do with Jay Cutler.>>And it was everybody, really, weighing in. Many of them have seen change in opinion — not just the written press, all the media. As Cutler now launches one deep. And that’s a flag-drawing play. The flag thrown at the 10-yard line. Rod Smith the target.>>And it was a double move on the outside by Rod Smith. And the deception is what causes the penalty. And that’s a good penalty.>>Pass interference — number 29, defense. Automatic first down.>>Chargers virtually mistake-free in that first half, had only one flag thrown. Four already in this quarter, plus a turnover.>>Rod Smith down at the bottom of your screen. Little stutter-go. And that’s what they teach you. Excellent job by Drayton Florence. When you’re fooled that way, stick that arm out, stop the touchdown, and take the penalty.>>A 15-yard penalty it was, Phil, so first down from the 13. And Cutler with the blitz! It’s Cooper coming in.>>When you see all the defenders lined up at the line of scrimmage, the offensive line has got to make the call. So they got to block everybody inside and let somebody free from the outside come in. And you allow the quarterback just enough time to set his feet and get rid of the ball quickly.>>Never a chance that time for Cutler. Stephen Cooper starting today for Randall Godfrey, who is inactive with injury. Second down and 18. Stepping up. Throwing over the head of Marshall and everyone else.>>But I’m gonna go back to Jay Cutler. Good coverage that time. Mike Shanahan made the switch. Everybody goes, “Well, it’s hurting their playoff chances.” And he said to us, “It’s not about the playoffs. It’s about winning a Super Bowl.”>>The big one.>>”And for us to go in the playoffs as a wild-card team, the way we were going, on the road,” it just didn’t mean much to him. So, he was hoping for a physical spark, an emotional spark. A quarterback can do that. That’s just some of the reasons why they made the switch.>>They’re stomping their feet here in San Diego. Third and 18 for Denver. Trying to cross them up with a run. And Bell, middle of the field, to the 15, to bring out Elam, to bring it down, with a conversion here, from what will be about 32, 33 yards, to bring them within one possession.>>Yeah, to cross them up, Jim, to ensure the field-goal try, to make it easier, and also take the mistake that can happen with a sack, a fumble, or an interception away from his offense.>>They call it 33 yards. Elam good on his only other attempt today. And Elam good again. 17 points in the quarter by the Broncos, 17 unanswered. Well, San Diego had that monster comeback at Invesco, down 24-7, and now the Broncos trying to pull off one of their own. They have come from 25 down to 8.>>This can be a problem for a lot of teams. And I’ll tell you why the Chargers — it’s not — They have a chance to get out of these situations easier than most teams because they have some known qualities about their football team, that they can run the football. When you struggle running and you get caught like this, where there’s a comeback or the emotions change, then it gets hard, because the pass rush gets tougher, all those other things that make it difficult for an offense. So, Chargers, when it gets tight — again, what did we say from the beginning? — hand it to 21.>>It’s a nice safeguard to have. Merriman with some equipment adjustments.>>Kind of like being in the booth with you. When I have nothing to say, I just say, “Jim, you know, go, run with it, do your thing.”>>I haven’t heard you ever say that. [ Laughs ]>>It’s coming. It’s coming.>>You’ve been filling that role very nicely.>>Touché.>>Ernster with the kick. Again, unreturnable. And Rivers hoping to spark something here in this second half for the Chargers. Nothing so far in the third. It’s what we were talking about a moment ago. Denver leading comfortably in that first meeting, until the Chargers poured it on them, flipped it, went 28-3 the rest of the way. Nick Hardwick, Phil, I can report is back in at center. Play-action fake to Tomlinson. And Rivers has Gates. And Lynch downs him at the 35. That goes for 15.>>Well, Nick Hardwick — you say he’s back in the lineup. It’s a blitz inside. And look what Philip Rivers has — nobody around him. And Antonio Gates — My gosh. He just gets wide open. And look — nobody in his vision for Philip Rivers. Nobody close to his feet, so he can really step into the throw, be accurate. And Antonio Gates, of course, is gonna catch it.>>Gates with six catches and a pair of touchdowns. First-down carry coming for Tomlinson, who is stopped for a loss of 3 by Domonique Foxworth. And that will bring us to the end of the third quarter, with the score San Diego 28, and Denver 20. We start the fourth. Jim Nantz, Phil Simms. Second down, 13, on the way for San Diego. And Rivers airing down the field! And Jackson with the catch over the shoulder. He’s a big target. Second-year player from Northern Colorado. It’s his second long ball of the day. 55 yards this time.>>Vincent Jackson just goes down the field and he just gets Darrent Williams. Darrent Williams is on the outside, again, looking in, thinking the throw might be short. And Vincent Jackson — tall, fast. Philip Rivers leads him down the field. Terrific throw and catch by the Chargers.>>More yards on that play than they managed the entire third quarter.>>The Broncos had the defense on to stop it.>>Tomlinson again met early. And that’s Ian Gold sending him back for a loss of 1. Boy, this Vincent Jackson — again, starting today for Keenan McCardell — he is a promising young receiver here. And he’s 6’5″ with the speed that you mentioned. And I made the statement in front of Coach Schottenheimer — might be the first guy in the history of the league whose GPA and 40-yard time were about the same. He was a 4.2 student at Northern Colorado. It’s second down and 11.>>I beat him by 1/10 of a point.>>And it’s Rivers lobbing it up. And that’s well beyond the end zone. Darrent Williams pulling it in out of bounds. You did, but it took you four years. That was the combined total.>>There you go.>>[ Laughs ]>>I tell you what, though — the San Diego Chargers, they have picked on Darrent Williams a little bit today. And they have done what they said they were gonna do. We hear it all the time. “We’re not gonna go after Champ Bailey.” And then it must be something that draws every team to him, because they all challenge him, and he intercepts the passes. It’s like telling your son or your young child, “Don’t touch that. It’s hot.” They got to touch it just to make sure.>>Bailey with six picks this season, all of them around that end zone. Rivers again. This time, pressure. And they get to him. First one there, Patrick Chukwurah, and then Ekuban helped finish him off for a loss of 4.>>When you empty that backfield, there’s nobody back there with Philip Rivers. You are putting pressure on four pass rushers to get to him, because you got five receivers down the field. Tough for the secondary to cover them. You need quick pressure. That time, they got it.>>Nate Kaeding comes out for a 34-yard field-goal attempt. Kaeding 18 of 21 on the season. Only three misses. And this one very through, right down the middle. So, increase the lead to 11. Just starting the final quarter. 31-20. Chargers on the board for the first time in the second half. All set up by the 55-yard pass to Vincent Jackson. Kaeding with the field goal. 31-20 game.>>A lot of big plays by this Chargers offense so far today.>>Including twice to Jackson, setting up scores. Touchdown the first time, field goal this time. And Clark will not have any of that. What a quarter that third quarter was for Jay Cutler.>>You know, it was, Jim. It’s like he finally got into the groove of the game. A couple of first downs, some play calling, good pass protection, short passes, rocket shots down the field, and a little good luck.>>And there are Jack and Sandy, his parents. They’ve flown in from Santa Claus, Indiana.>>They got great seats, too.>>Yeah, they did. Not that their son didn’t take care of them. That’s just the way it works in the league. You guessed it. What? Three rows from the top. His son’s pass deflected at the line of scrimmage. Did you get tickets like that on the road, too?>>That’s how they are everywhere.>>Hard to believe.>>Yes. Unless you know somebody with the home team, you are gonna be sitting up top.>>That pass deflected by Jamal Williams.>>Almost the exact opposite, for Jay Cutler, from the first half to the second half.>>Second down and 10 with 12:48 left in the game. Little toss, the pitch. And Tatum Bell has plenty of room for the first down. McCree finally bumping him out. Eric Pears, on the left side, really in charge of that clearance.>>Yeah, it’s a formation they’ve gotten into about three times today, and they’ve thrown a pass out of it every single time. The quick pitch to the outside, to Tatum Bell. Well done, well thought out, and it catches the Charger defense off guard.>>And Tatum Bell has a 100-yard game. 14 for 101. They’ll go to the four-receiver formation, give Cutler the room to operate out of the gun. And they try to cross up the blitz by running with it. Bell squeezes out 3 yards before Cooper meets him.>>You know, when they go to that four-wide-receiver set, you go, “Well, why do they do it?” As soon as they spread out, they’ve got the Chargers in a normal defense. They’re not ready for it. So they know exactly what coverage, what the defense is gonna do. And when you know that, it should help you, but that time, Chargers alert to it and stopped the run.>>Gonna stay with that formation, Phil. Second down, we’ll call it 8. Open. Marshall trying to make a move. Gets past the first and almost the second. But holding on to bring him down was Donnie Edwards. First, though, he escaped Quentin Jammer. Picks up 6.>>Yeah, just good recognition, good throw. Everything that Jay Cutler does is just what Mike Shanahan wanted. He saw that they blitzed that time from that formation. Gets rid of it quick. And Brandon Marshall – you can see he’s big and powerful and fast. You better bring him down.>>Another rookie with great promise for the Broncos. Out of Central Florida University. Third and 2. Big moment here for Cutler and the Broncos. He fields the low snap. Now fires down the field. And it’s out of bounds in the area of Marshall, who makes an appeal for a little push by Jammer, but no call.>>I think the Broncos are gonna go for it, maybe, on fourth down. But Quentin Jammer — what’s his strength as a corner? Oh, boy, that is — That’s pass interference down the field, but it’s tough for the official to see it. The initial contact is good. That’s what he does very well. But once they go down past the 5 yards, you can’t push him out of bounds.>>You like this call with a full 11 minutes left?>>I thought they would try to go for it, Jim. If they didn’t pick it up on third, they would go for it on fourth.>>Hold on. Play whistled dead. [ Whistles blowing ]>>Time-out, San Diego. First team time-out.>>Forcing the Chargers to take their first time-out of the half. A crucial play on the way. Fourth and 2. From the gun. Batted down! Shawne Merriman. And the Chargers take over on downs.>>Well, it’s my favorite — the old quick throw, the three-step drop from the shotgun. And the Chargers read it. They read it. They see it’s a quick throw. Shawne Merriman immediately knows he can’t get to the quarterback. “Let me knock it down.” And why the Broncos go for it — you know, it’s not clear-cut, but Mike Shanahan — They’re near midfield. They’re near midfield, and he doesn’t think his defense can stop them, so he wants to take the chance right here.>>You don’t think Plummer’s on that sideline rooting for the rookie, pulling for his teammates? You saw the look of dejection. That pass actually hit Merriman up around the elbows, it was such an easy bat-down. And will the momentum shift back? As the Chargers go with Tomlinson for only 2 yards. Looked like he was gonna try to hit Walker on the slant, and it also looked like Jammer had a good defense on that, too. Here’s Tomlinson today. And it’s not like he’s wowing you with any major stats to this point, Phil. He’s got a touchdown. But they’ve bottled him up pretty good.>>Again, the play in this game so far was the fourth-down try by the Denver Broncos. A tough decision, a gamble by Mike Shanahan that doesn’t work.>>So, now Rivers rolling out. Chased down by Lang and has to throw it away. That fourth-down decision, you know, gives the ball back on the plus side, but it’s still third down on the way.>>That’s right. They put the pressure on their defense. It didn’t surprise me. What surprised me was, on third down, I was thinking, “Maybe they’ll go for it on fourth,” that they were gonna run the football with third and 2. Instead, they elected to go for the big play.>>Rivers down the middle. Gates, first down. And Gates left open for a gain of 19.>>He’s such a big target and he has such a natural athletic feel to where to make the cuts and know where the open — You saw that quick, little peek inside. He knew that’s where the void of the defense, where it was. And Philip Rivers just throws a strike in there. But Antonio Gates — such an imposing target down the field. And the Chargers — a terrific job moving him around. And their passing game, like I said earlier, always starts with him and then moves towards the wide receivers after he’s covered.>>He’s over 100 yards receiving. And Tomlinson again. Tripped up quickly. Picks up 3 yards. Gates’ day includes two touchdowns in the first half. The jump ball, coming down with it between two corners, and then maybe a little shove there. Lynch making an appeal — to no avail. There, you see Tomlinson, today — 23 carries, 77 yards. Just about 3 yards a pop. That’s it.>>Well earned. They made their decision.>>They fake to Tomlinson. And, again, left open. Rivers rolling and tucking it under. Out of bounds at the 17.>>Jim, you bring up a good point. They’ve kept LaDainian Tomlinson in check, but, as they would say, this is — What is it they say? It’s not a one-horse pony show. Whatever. One of those things. They got a lot they can do. So, you take one away, they go, “Well, that’s good. Take him away and let us throw the football down the field to a wide-open Antonio Gates.” And that’s what’s happened so far. That, Vincent Jackson, the big throws — that’s been the difference in the game for the San Diego Chargers.>>And that would be a one-trick pony.>>Yeah, one-trick pony.>>And they have had one big trick in this game. It was a touchdown — the Bumerooski.>>That’s right.>>Third down again. A big moment for this Denver “D.” Chargers converting on the last one a moment ago. Rivers, this time — No. As Gates lost his footing. And, really, that was close to Darrent Williams picking it off. He ran one back against Rivers in their first matchup.>>Anticipation by the quarterback. That’s what Philip Rivers is doing. So when Antonio Gates gets tripped up accidentally, it almost leads to a big turnover.>>And Darrent Williams knows it. Had all of San Diego County in front of him.>>Well, Jim, good job by the Denver defense holding the Chargers to this field-goal attempt.>>35 yards it is. Kaeding with the kick. And it is good. Second field goal of the half for Kaeding. And a two-touchdown advantage for the Chargers. With the aerial coverage at Qualcomm Stadium, where the hardest ticket of the week here in California has seen a game get quite competitive here in the second half. And the Denver defense only allowing a field goal, just a moment ago, with the big fourth-down stop. That goes through the hands of Clark. He’ll down it.>>I’m sure the fact that a field goal, Jim, puts them up by 14 was part of the decision by Mike Shanahan going for it on fourth down.>>Again, a San Diego win would clinch the AFC West and put them in position as the 1 seed with three weeks to go, with the Colts, earlier, losing, Baltimore winning on the road, and New England falling to Miami. But then you look at the Denver Broncos in that bunch in the hunt, as Cincinnati and Jacksonville both won earlier today to elevate the wild-card number to 8-5. Quick toss pitch to to Bell. And he’s at only 2 yards. Carlos Polk in on the hit. And he’s been in there, Phil. Shaun Phillips has been on the sidelines getting stretched out.>>Yeah, he got banged up earlier in the game. But it shows you — Jim, we talked about it — the depth that the Chargers have at linebacker. You know, Steve Foley had that incident earlier in the year. He’s out. Shaun Phillips comes in, steps in, does a good job. Randall Godfrey out. Stephen Cooper’s played very well today. And now Carlos Polk in there.>>Second down and 8. Marshall drops it. Anticipating the hit. Third and 8 on the way.>>Yeah, when you get down, when you’re down 14 points late in the game, every play is crucial, because you’re trying to keep the situations in your favor. So now, instead of third and about a yard or 2, it’s a tough, long 8.>>Cutler has to step up. Hits Bell. But Tatum stopped about 2 yards short of the first. They gave him the underneath throw. And McCree and Edwards combined on the tackle. Is that Shanahan signaling, “We’re going for it, stay out there”?>>You’ve got to go for it, Jim, because it’s 7:15 to go, and you just got to think, well, okay, if your defense was shutting them out and playing great and having the day of their lives, you’d punt it away, maybe. But you’re not.>>Castillo in on Cutler! And the sack all the way back at the 20. Merriman in there, also. But Castillo just bursting through and running him down.>>I believe he was unblocked. Number 93, to the right of your screen. No, he does. He just gets by Cooper Carlisle so fast that the right guard cannot even make a reaction. Well, yeah, I saw what happened. The right guard is expecting maybe it’s gonna be a blitz, and the running back and Cooper Carlisle get mixed up. That’s why Luis Castillo gets in. [ Crowd chants “L.T.!” ]>>So, the second time in this quarter San Diego takes over on downs. And Tomlinson picks up 3. Like to welcome some of you just joining us. Jim Nantz along with Phil Simms here at Qualcomm in San Diego. The Chargers led it 28-3 at halftime. Broncos put up 17 unanswered in the third quarter, behind Cutler’s two hookups with Tony Scheffler. But a pair of Kaeding field goals and a pair of fourth-down stops by the Chargers’ defense here in the late going. It’s second down and 7. Time for Tomlinson to go to work. And he runs right behind Kris Dielman. [ Crowd chants “L.T.!” ] There’s an “L.T.” chant going through the stadium here. He’s got one touchdown already for the game. 27 now on the season. One needed to tie the single-season record in NFL history. So, they measure for it. And they’ve got inches to go with third down on the way.>>You know, that’s really what the Chargers would hope for, Jim — just a little bit to go on third down — because that gives them an extra play, more clock. You know, just keep it moving. And, of course, if they do not pick it up here, they would kick the field goal to make it a three-score game. Unbalanced. Nope. Is it an unbalanced line? To the left side, it is.>>And they clear out the backfield. And they’ll sneak it with Rivers. Big guy that he is, able to just fall forward for the first down, it appears. There it is. First and goal to go.>>The Chargers, in short-yardage situations, though — they like to take the right tackle, Shane Olivea, and line him up on the left side so they get a double-tight-end look and a tight end. So, they run a lot of plays that way, but they also have some breakers, where they go to the right and try to catch the defense off guard.>>So, first and goal to go. Rivers under center. He’s the number-one quarterback in the league this season in the fourth quarter. But he calls the time-out. Frustrated and angry for a moment there. They’ll take it over with a two-touchdown lead. Coronado Bridge. Beautiful harbor of San Diego. And there is the ever-expressive Philip Rivers calling a time-out, then coming to the sideline with a chuckle. They’ve got a first and goal to go. Looking for the knockout punch. Tomlinson hit, spins. 6-yard line. Myers bringing him down. But give him 4.>>They love to run to the left side, this San Diego Chargers team, for a couple of reasons. They like the way they run-block on the left side. Mike Goff, the right guard, pulls around to the left, does a good job. But that time, the unbalanced line again, Jim. The right tackle going to the left. Shoot, they’re just telling you, “We got some big guys over there. We’re gonna run that way.”>>Approaching 4 minutes. That’s all. 4 minutes from winning a division. Second and goal. Tomlinson. Tomlinson’s in to match the record! “L.T. time,” indeed. Tying Alexander’s efforts of a year ago with three games to go. And that right there is almost impossible to dispute.>>Way to go, L.T.>>Good job, good job.>>Kaeding makes it 41-20. Seventh consecutive multi-touchdown game.>>Good blocking up front. It is. But LaDainian Tomlinson, what you see so many times, makes the first guy miss and gets those few extra yards. Just one of the reasons why he has so many touchdowns.>>L.T. has a piece of the record. Phil, all this MVP talk — You know, Drew Brees having an outstanding year. There are others. But how can you go against this, when you talk about a team that’s on its way, right now, to the number-1 position in the AFC, with 28 touchdowns in 13 games? Clark. Bouncing off the chest. Picks it up. And good piece of tackling. [ Laughing ] Only the official can bring him down. He stayed with it. Talking about Steve Gregory. Tonight on CBS “60 Minutes,” it’s violent, it’s bloody, and it’s full of action, and Americans are falling in love with Ultimate Fighting. That’s coming your way, followed by new episodes of “Amazing Race.” That’s the finale for this race. “Cold Case,” “Without a Trace” tonight on CBS, America’s number-one network.>>Well, it sure is one of my favorites. But, you know, Jim –>>Ultimate Fighting?>>Oh, yeah, sure. Watch it all the time. But LaDainian Tomlinson — three games ago. You see this Charger team. It’s gonna be hard for him not to win the Most Valuable Player, because of how good they are, and they’ve presented a lot of opportunities, too.>>That’s Bell, with Phillips back in. Gets only 3 yards. You see Phillips go gimpy. Tomlinson telling us last year, attainted the records. Not into them at all. He has a one-track mind. Always looking ahead, not back. Considers himself a throwback player and would like to think that he will stay with this one team his entire career and make it work. Oh, and the ball is stripped. The ball is stripped. And it’s Merriman with the force and the recovery. And you know what? We’ve got L.T. with a chance to make the record. He’s going back out there. [ Crowd cheering ] They know it.>>Tough situation for the Denver Broncos’ offense and for Jay Cutler. Trying to throw it down the field. Shawne Merriman, against the tackle Pears, just keeps with it, gets around, makes the strip. And then we get to see the “Lights Out” dance. Yeah, I’m almost a little surprised that they do come back out here, Jim, you know, with the score the way it is, 41-20. Well, I guess they want to get this record talk — just get it over with. But you talk about LaDainian Tomlinson. They use him better. Marty Schottenheimer not using him in the preseason.>>We’ve got a challenge coming by Denver, Phil.>>By Mike Shanahan that says it’s an incomplete forward pass.>>Right.>>But they don’t practice him as much. They cut down his reps, trying to preserve, to make his career, you know, longer and not take away from how good he is. The arm is going back.>>No question about that, right?>>Yeah, I think that’s gonna be in favor of the San Diego Chargers. He never really gets the arm going forward.>>That’s a good look at what you were talking about earlier, partner, about the wind-up that you get with that whole baseball heritage…>>Yeah.>>…at Heritage Hill High School back in Santa Claus, Indiana, his hometown.>>But when he needs to, when he wants to, he can really quicken it up and just snap the ball down the field with his hand. And, so, his long motion, I guess you want to call it, doesn’t bother me at all. Hasn’t been a factor, really, in today’s game, until that play.>>This is not a bad move here at all by Coach Shanahan. What else can you do right now? It’s only gonna cost you a time-out. It’s the only chance you got. Schottenheimer and Shanahan — well, they’ve met over 20 times in their careers, on opposite sidelines. It’s about to be a one-game differential, head-to-head. Shanahan having that one-game edge.>>You know, Jim — We’re gonna get to the call here. But the game was in jeopardy for a while, and the Chargers just methodically pulled away.>>All right, Pete Morelli’s seen enough. Well, maybe not. He’s gonna come back maybe just to reconfirm exactly where the ball should be placed, I would suspect. They’re just gonna confirm it’s the 7.>>After reviewing the play, the ruling on the field stands — fumble. Denver will be charged a time-out.>>And, again, the football at the 7 and goal to go. There’s Merriman, his reaction.>>Yeah, he gets it all there. He gets the sack, the fumble.>>Forced fumble.>>Forced fumble. You get everything. It’s the triple-double of football.>>All right, the chant at full throttle. Stirred to a frenzy. They want the record. Tomlinson off the left side. Tomlinson sidesteps. Hello, history books! [ All cheering ] You think of all the legends of the game, guys who had the nose for the end zone, whether it’s a Jim Brown or a Gale Sayers, generations ago, and Marcus Allen, who knew how to score a touchdown or two in his time, to Faulk, and on to Priest Holmes and Shaun Alexander, and no one has ever raised the bar to 29 until now.>>And how fitting he does it on a run, Jim. It’s not just a little plunge up the middle. It’s off left tackle, and there’s nothing there, so he breaks it outside and outruns everybody to the end zone.>>On a carry that put him over 100 yards for the game.>>Off left tackle. The little move inside enough to fool Darrent Williams. But what has separated LaDainian Tomlinson — yes, the quickness. He has the power to break tackles. But that speed, that extra gear that takes a good running back and makes him great. That little hip movement — just a tremendous example, a little example, of why he is so special.>>And he does it in 13 games, Phil. And for those who say, “Well, wait a minute. You know, the heroes of yesteryear — they only played 14-game seasons, whereas now you’re playing 16,” not that any of the prior generations were really up there, as you saw the list of those he’s eclipsed in just the last two weeks alone, but he’s done it in 13 games is the bottom line. The 48 points, by the way, put up by the Chargers the most allowed by a Mike Shanahan team in the regular season. Out of TCU back in 2001. His alma mater is gonna play a bowl game here on this field just a few days down the road. You know they wanted to come here, in large part, accepted because they wanted to play on Tomlinson turf. And there is Tatum Bell, who has his own 100-yard effort today. It’s going to go largely unnoticed, but it is the first opponent of the Chargers to rush for 100 yards in the last 21 homes games.>>You know, I look at LaDainian Tomlinson, too, Jim, as I watch him, and, you know, you mark players each year. And I thought, “Boy, can he continue to go at the pace he’s going?” So I thought, “Oh, this might be the year he starts to slow down.” But, well, I was wrong there, because he has not slowed down. He actually looks quicker this year than I’ve seen him maybe in his whole career.>>As Mike Bell picking up 8. How do you do that as an athlete? And you’re so keen on all the fitness, nutrition, things about stretching, all the latest. How has he been able to do that, that he’s picked up a step?>>Well, first and foremost, he’s having the cooperation of the Chargers coaching staff. They’ve made it happen by the way they’re handling him. But he’s always been in tune with his body, taking care of himself. And everything — you put it all together, we’re seeing greatness this year.>>What a day in San Diego. 2-minute warning. The Chargers — a division-title-clinching day and a huge record all in one. Well, this game had tightened to 28-20 entering the fourth quarter, but then 20 unanswered by the Chargers — two field goals by Kaeding, the two touchdowns, plus the one in the first half by Tomlinson. Here it is, Phil.>>Inside, tough run. Good blocking and just speed to the outside. Just a couple reasons why he has three touchdowns. And it was work. He worked hard for those three touchdowns today, Jim. 28 carries for just over 100.>>Yeah, he worked hard for every yard. It’s the seventh straight 100-yard game and seventh straight multi-touchdown game. And that’s Mike Bell. And now the Chargers have won 20 straight games when Tomlinson has 100 yards. Seeing why they’re the highest-scoring team in the league, highest-scoring fourth-quarter team in the league, as well. And they’re gonna have the division clinched now. With Kansas City losing, Denver dropping this one, it’s over in the West.>>Well, you know, you said something to me — “Hey, how about the Indianapolis Colts? And, you know, they lost today.” And I just say this to you. They can’t stop the run. How would they measure up, right now, against this Chargers football team?>>Well, they gave up what? 248 yards rushing in the first half today. Over 350, I believe, for the game — or around that, anyway. How would they stop Tomlinson? Denver not gonna do anything with it. They’re gonna go back, regroup, head to Arizona next week. LaDainian Tomlinson, you can take a bow. You’ve got the record. San Diego has the division and now in first position in the AFC. And to think there are nine teams within two games of the wild card right now. You got Cincinnati and Jacksonville at 8-5, with Kansas City, Denver, the Jets 7-6. Buffalo gets in there at 6-7, with Miami even, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh. It’s gonna be a wild finish the last three weeks. Enjoyed it, partner. For Phil Simms, Jim Nantz saying so long from Qualcomm.