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Tomlinson left game in third quarter

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- For a change, the San Diego Chargers weren't
left feeling powder blue after playing in their 1960s throwback
uniforms.

The Chargers looked sharp and played the same way, beating
Jacksonville 34-21 on Sunday behind a quick-strike offense and a
defense that proved it was tough, too.

"We had a lot of things go right for us today," said LaDainian
Tomlinson, who ran and caught the ball with his usual flair, but
was sacked for the first time in his career.

Drew Brees, the quarterback the front office didn't want after
last season's 4-12 nightmare, threw two touchdown passes to Antonio
Gates, the tight end who played basketball, not football, at Kent
State.

The Chargers, who've preached fast starts in practice, led 21-0
early in the second quarter.

"Hopefully it will just become who we are ... hey, that's the
San Diego Chargers, we come out and we score first and we get our
team rolling," Brees said. "That's the team who we want to be."

The Chargers (3-2) won consecutive games in the same season for
the first time since October 2002 (the Chargers did win their final
game of last season and their first game this season).

Tomlinson limped off the field late in the third quarter after
aggravating a groin injury and sat out the rest of the game. That
allowed backup Jesse Chatman to rush for 103 yards and a 41-yard
score.

Coach Marty Schottenheimer awarded game balls to the offensive
linemen, who sprung the backs for 176 yards against a tough defense
anchored by massive tackles John Henderson and Marcus Stroud.

"Those guys won the game for us," Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson lined up at quarterback twice on a drive in the third
quarter. He gained 7 yards after taking the snap in the shotgun
formation, then lined up at QB again four plays later and was
sacked.

"He tried his Michael Vick impersonation and it didn't work,"
tackle Roman Oben said. "He should stick to running the ball."

Said Tomlinson: "I was trying to be like Mike."

The Chargers visit Vick's Falcons next Sunday. The players will
always be linked because Atlanta took Vick with the top pick in the
2001 draft after obtaining it from San Diego for the fifth pick,
which San Diego spent on Tomlinson, along with Tim Dwight and other
picks.

Tomlinson gained 56 yards on 19 carries, and caught four passes
for 78 yards.

The Chargers harassed Jags quarterback Byron Leftwich all
afternoon and had two interceptions, by Drayton Florence and Jamar
Fletcher. Linebacker Steve Foley forced and recovered a fumble when
he hit receiver Reggie Williams.

Leftwich threw one touchdown pass and scored on a short run for
the Jaguars (3-2), who lost their second straight. The second-year
pro completed 36 of 54 passes for 357 yards, all career highs.

"We have a swagger about ourselves that I don't think we showed
today," Leftwich said. "We did nothing wrong but the turnovers.
We put our team in a tough situation to try to fight back."

Brees seems intent on keeping rookie Philip Rivers on the bench.
After struggling badly in losses the last two times the Chargers
wore their powder blue jerseys, Brees was 17-of-26 for 211 yards
and didn't throw an interception for the third straight game.

Gates had eight catches for 93 yards.

The Chargers thwarted Jacksonville's defense by going over it.
Brees threw six straight passes to open the game -- completing four
-- and Tomlinson caught two passes before he took a handoff. Brees
was 7-for-9 for 62 yards on the drive, which he finished with a
1-yard pass to Gates, who was supposed to run a corner route but
improvised when he saw the middle was wide open.

On the next drive, Tomlinson turned a swing pass into a 54-yard
gain by racing through traffic before he was pushed out of bounds
at the Jacksonville 19. Five plays later, Tomlinson dived over the
pile from a yard out to give the Chargers a 14-0 lead.

"When we play the way we're capable of playing, we can
compete," Schottenheimer said.

Florence's interception in the second quarter set up Brees'
11-yard touchdown pass to Gates, who was all alone in the left flat
for a 21-0 lead.

The Jaguars came back with a 15-play drive and Chris
Fuamatu-Ma'afala scored on a 1-yard run.

Leftwich scored on a 2-yard run and threw a 7-yard TD pass to
Cortez Hankton, both in the fourth quarter.

Chargers rookie Nate Kaeding kicked field goals of 21 and 28
yards.
^Notes:@ The Chargers have scored 72 points in two games, their most
in consecutive games since scoring 77 in the final two games of
1993. ... No major injuries were reported by either team.

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