SAN DIEGO (AP) - Well, wouldn't you know it, the San Diego Chargers can win in the playoffs. Thirteen long years after their last postseason victory, the Chargers finally came to life late in the second half Sunday to beat the Tennessee Titans 17-6 in an AFC wild-card game. A gloomy, rainy afternoon never looked so good in normally sunny San Diego. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson was held to 42 yards, but got to celebrate the first playoff victory in three tries in his brilliant career. The Titans bottled up Tomlinson, the two-time NFL rushing champion, and dared quarterback Philip Rivers to beat them. The second-year starter did just that, throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson late in the third quarter that gave San Diego its first lead at 10-6.
Tomlinson finally found the end zone midway through the fourth quarter, on a fourth-down leap over the pile from inside the 1-yard line that had to survive a video replay. Tomlinson went airborne and was met by linebacker Stephen Tulloch, but the running back used a second effort to get the ball over the goal line before linebacker Colin Allred knocked it out of his hands. Tomlinson jumped for joy, but Titans coach Jeff Fisher threw his red challenge flag. After a video review, it was ruled that the ball crossed the plane of the goal line. Tomlinson celebrated again on the sideline. There would be no comeback for Vince Young and the Titans (10-7), who lost to the Chargers in overtime at Nashville five weeks ago in a tough, nasty game in which several players were hurt. Just like that, the nightmares of the Marty Schottenheimer era finally went away. Schottenheimer was fired due to front-office friction in February, a month after San Diego inexplicably melted down in a 24-21 divisional-round playoff loss to New England. The Chargers had gone an NFL-best 14-2 in 2006. Two years before that, the Chargers lost in overtime to the New York Jets, also at home.
Overall, the Chargers had lost four straight postseason games dating to their ugly 49-26 loss to San Francisco in the Super Bowl following the 1994 season. The Chargers advance to face the Colts on Sunday in Indianapolis. That game also will be a rematch. San Diego escaped with a 23-21 win over the Colts on Nov. 11, when Peyton Manning threw a career-high six interceptions and Adam Vinatieri missed a 29-yard field goal attempt with 1:31 left. Tomlinson spent the last few minutes on the sideline in this one with a wrap on his left calf. Rivers was 19-of-30 for 292 yards, with one interception. Chris Chambers had six catches for 121 yards, and Jackson had five for 114.
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