September 30, 2002
SAN DIEGO -- Yes, the Chargers are for real. Any doubts were left in the vapor trails of LaDainian Tomlinson and his teammates as they raced past the Patriots.
Tomlinson tied a team rushing record with 217 yards and scored on runs of 58 and 37 yards Sunday as the Chargers beat the defending Super Bowl champions 21-14 in a matchup of unbeaten teams.
Playing what Junior Seau called their biggest game in three years, the Chargers improved to 4-0 for the first time since their Super Bowl season of 1994.
"We shook up the world, baby," said Tomlinson, who had the most yards rushing in the league this season.
That was about as exuberant as the Chargers got, though a rare full house at Qualcomm Stadium went wild. The Chargers felt validated, but there's still three-quarters of the season left.
"It doesn't mean anything unless we make the postseason," said Seau, who hasn't been to the playoffs since 1995. "We're growing, and we hope to build on it."
The Patriots lost for the first time in 13 games, including last season's Super Bowl run. It also was their first loss in 11 games against the Chargers.
"It's a feeling we haven't had for a while," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. "We're all a little shellshocked right now."
Seau and safety Rodney Harrison were both in the lineup for the first time since opening day.
But Tomlinson's running carried the Chargers. The go-ahead score came on his 58-yard run, the longest of his career, on the second play of the third quarter.