Tue, Dec 21, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Chargers blank Browns in Cleveland

AMERICAN FOOTBALL San Diego chalked up 21 unanswered points amid a smowstorm in Cleveland to secure the title in the AFC's Western Division

AP , CLEVELAND, OHIO

Seahawks safety Michael Boulware, bottom, tackles Jets fullback B.J. Askew as he dives for the goal line after catching a pass during the first quarter at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday. New York defeated Seattle 37-14.

PHOTO: AP

LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns, Antonio Gates tied a record with his 12th TD of the season and the San Diego Chargers captured the AFC West Division title on Sunday, sliding through the snow for a 21-0 win over the Cleveland Browns.

One season after they had the National Football League's worst record at 4-12, the Chargers (11-3) won their eighth straight and earned their first playoff berth since 1995. They're also division champions for the first time since 1994, clinching the top spot when Denver lost 45-17 in Kansas City.

San Diego, which has its longest winning streak since 1987, ignored the blowing snow and a game-time temperature of -8?C to post their first shutout since 1993 and easily handle the Browns (3-11), who lost their eighth straight.

Colts 20, Ravens 10

In Indianapolis, Peyton Manning couldn't get a record-setting touchdown pass against Baltimore's rugged defense. Manning led two second-half touchdown drives, pulling within one of Dan Marino's record for touchdown passes in a season, and the Colts got their seventh straight victory.

Manning has 47 TD passes; Marino had 48 in 1984.

The fans even booed when Manning knelt down twice in the final minute at the Baltimore 4, running out the clock with a chance to tie the record.

Marvin Harrison, Manning favorite target, was wide open on a 29-yard TD pass to make it 13-3.

Manning fell short of Marino's record, but extended his own NFL record of consecutive 4,000-yard seasons to six. He finished 20 of 33 for 249 yards and one touchdown.

Baltimore's playoff hopes took a hit. The Ravens (8-6) are now tied with Buffalo, Jacksonville and Denver for the final wild-card spot in the AFC race.

Eagles 12, Cowboys 7

In Philadelphia, Dorsey Levens' 2-yard touchdown run with 1:57 left helped Philadelphia clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

But the win was costly for Philadelphia, which lost star wide receiver Terrell Owens to an ankle injury. Owens didn't return after spraining his right ankle early in the third quarter.

Philadelphia plays its first playoff game on Jan. 15 or 16.

Vikings 28, Lions 27

In Detroit, Detroit botched an extra-point attempt with 8 seconds left that would've tied the game, allowing Minnesota to hang on for a much-needed victory.

The Lions went 80 yards in 1:29 to pull within a point on Joey Harrington's second touchdown pass to Roy Williams. Then, Don Muhlbach's snap bounced to holder Nick Harris, who was tackled before he could get the football spotted for kicker Jason Hanson.

Jets 37, Seahawks 14

In East Rutherford, New Jersey, Chad Pennington threw three touchdown passes and Curtis Martin had 134 yards and two touchdown runs, helping New York keep its lead in the AFC wild-card standings.

The Seahawks (7-7) had another disappointing day in their bid to stay atop the NFC West, with three turnovers the Jets (10-4) converted into 14 points.

Bills 33, Bengals 17

In Cincinnati, Takeo Spikes returned an interception 62 yards for a pivotal touchdown against his former team, and Buffalo turned in another dominating defensive performance.

Buffalo (8-6) bolstered its playoff chances with a solid all-around game. Jason Peters blocked a punt and recovered in the end zone for a score, and the defense turned Jon Kitna's latest comeback into a bad flashback.

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