With news that running back LaDainian Tomlinson is planning to retire, we wanted to quickly examine his impact against the Cincinnati Bengals. During his 11 seasons as one of the league's all-time best running backs, Tomlinson played six games against the Bengals (four with the Chargers, two with the Jets). And during three of his first four games against Cincinnati (all with the Chargers), Tomlinson surpassed 100 yards rushing and scored a combined nine touchdowns in all four. Including his two seasons with the Jets, Tomlinson averaged 4.8 yards/rush (as high as 5.25 yard/rush with the Chargers) against Cincinnati.
But we focus on a game six years ago.
Cincinnati jumped out to a 28-7 half-time lead against the San Diego Chargers on November 12, 2006. Carson Palmer completed 20 of 23 passes for 282 yards in the first half with 13 of those completions going to Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh for 200 yards. Domination. It was like nothing we've seen (and haven't seen since the win over Chicago in 2009). Despite scoring San Diego's lone first-half touchdown, Tomlinson was a non-factor posting just 26 yards rushing on eight carries.
This was to be an easy win. A glorious Sunday afternoon, where angels float from the heavens to bath us in exotic oils and psychedelic euphoria. The following morning, I wrote six years ago:
I thought to myself, "how would I intro the Monday morning hangover after that embarrassing meltdown Sunday?" Should I rip the defense? (Umm, well duh) What about the coaching staff? I spoke with long-time Bengals fan and family member, J-cuz, when I was ripping Marvin Lewis. I said last night, minutes after the loss, that Lewis has had four years and our defense is dreadful; his credibility as a defensive-minded coach, is nonexistent. There’s no way on God’s green Earth that a defense gives up 42 points in the second half. It should never happen.
Tomlinson rushed for 78 yards on 14 carries, scoring 3 touchdowns in a second-half so shocking, it has welcomely faded from memory, with random reminders pinging our minds during our more vulnerable states. Tomlinson wasn't the main contributor for San Diego outscoring the Bengals 42-13 in the second half; Phillip Rivers converted 16 of 22 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns during the game's final two quarters. Yet it was Tomlinson that scored three touchdowns, slicing and dicing through Dexter Jackson, Landon Johnson, Ahmad Brooks, Ethan Kilmer, Herana-Daze Jones, Caleb Miller, Andre Frazier and a defense that would eventually rank No. 30 in the NFL that year.
The game had such an impact on the NFL, the Elias Sports Bureau was forced to chime in:
That matched the largest deficit that the Chargers had ever overcome in a victory (in 1983, they came from 21 points down to defeat the Seahawks); and it was the largest deficit overcome to win for a team head-coached by Marty Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer's previous record comeback came on Dec. 19, 1993, when his Chiefs -- led by Joe Montana -- came back from 17 points down to defeat the Chargers 28-24.
The Chargers' total of 42 second-half points was the highest by any NFL team since Oct. 14, 1979, when the Saints put up 42 second-half points in a 42-14 win at Tampa.
After the game Tomlinson told the San Diego Union-Tribute:
“I've been saying we're a resilient team,” said Tomlinson, who tied a team record with four rushing touchdowns. “You can say it, but we let those two against Baltimore and Kansas City slip away. I think we're just starting to prove how resilient we are.”
Tomlinson's history against the Bengals.