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Chargers ride Tomlinson to first win

SAN DIEGO (Sept. 25, 2005) -- The boos and rude chants came thundering down on Eli Manning from the moment he ran onto the field, rising up every time he lined up under center.

San Diegans got their payback, and it was raucous.

"I knew it was going to be loud," said Manning, who spurned the Chargers 17 months ago, then lost to them as San Diego defeated the New York Giants 45-23 on Sunday night.

While the sellout crowd of 65,373 delighted in tormenting Manning, it also exhorted the Chargers and LaDainian Tomlinson, who ran for 192 yards and three touchdowns, and threw for another score on a night that left thousands of ear drums ringing, especially Manning's.

Drew Brees threw two touchdowns for the Chargers (1-2), who had 485 total yards. Manning threw for a career-high 352 yards and two touchdowns for the Giants (2-1), who gained 424 yards.

A few days before the 2004 draft, Manning's camp told the Chargers to take someone else with the No. 1 pick, and implied the Ole Miss star would sit out if San Diego selected him.

General manager A.J. Smith took Manning anyway, then traded him to the Giants for quarterback Philip Rivers -- taken at No. 4 -- and a handful of picks.

Chargers defenders said all week they were more concerned about getting a win than getting even with Manning.

Yeah, right.

After Manning had to call a timeout early in the second quarter deep in New York territory, the players egged on the crowd. When Donnie Edwards sacked Manning on the next play, fellow linebacker Steve Foley jumped all over Edwards in celebration.

Linebacker Ben Leber drew a roughing-the-passer call after Manning threw a touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress to pull to 21-10 late in the second quarter.

Fans brought signs such as "Hey Eli, Nobody Likes You," "Drew's Your Daddy," and "Daddy's Little Girl," a shot at Manning and his father, Archie.

In the front row behind the Chargers' bench, fans pummeled a mannequin that was dressed in Manning's No. 10 jersey and a Giants helmet.

Stashed in Edwards' locker was a T-shirt imprinted with the same phrase fans had been chanting. "I saw my name on a few things," Manning said. "I'm sure they made a good profit on T-shirts and things."

Edwards said he took Manning's slight personally.

"I was born and raised here in San Diego. It's almost like a slap in the face for us. I think a lot of people took it that way," he said.

"Hopefully we can put all that's happened with the Chargers in the past," Manning said.

Edwards said it was so loud he had to use hand signals to make the defensive calls. At one point, he was tempted to plug the ear holes in his helmet with his fingers.

"The energy was awesome today," he said.

"They really gave the Giants a hard time, especially Eli," Tomlinson said. "It was an electrifying event out there and it was like a playoff game."

Manning did quiet the crowd by leading the Giants on three scoring drives late in the second quarter to pull the Giants to 21-20. Manning finished 24 of 41, both career bests, and was sacked twice.

But the Chargers scored on their first three possessions of the second half to put it away.

Early in the third period, Brees pitched to Tomlinson and the running back rolled right and threw a scoring pass to Keenan McCardell, who for the second time in the game was isolated on a linebacker.

"I thought I threw it too far but I guess the old man's still got some legs," said Tomlinson, who also threw a TD pass to Brees in 2003.

San Diego came back with a clock-eating drive that Brees finished with a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Antonio Gates. It was the first score of the year for Gates, who set an NFL record for tight ends with 13 touchdown passes in 2004.

Brees was 19 of 22 for 191 yards.

Tomlinson scored on a 5-yard run to make it 42-23, and Nate Kaeding added a 44-yard field goal.

Tomlinson scored on runs of 1 and 3 yards in the first half.

The Chargers scored on their first three possessions to take a 21-3 lead. Tomlinson's touchdown runs bookended a 15-yard scoring catch by McCardell, who easily outmatched linebacker Reggie Torbor.

Manning threw two touchdown passes in the span of 1:39 in the second quarter, 5 yards to Plaxico Burress and, after Tomlinson fumbled after making a catch and New York's Osi Umenyiora recovered, to David Tyree from the 4.

New York's Jay Feely kicked a 40-yard field goal with 11 seconds left before halftime.

NOTES: San Diego had its highest point total since beating Miami 45-20 on Dec. 27, 1993. ... The Giants allowed the most points since losing 45-7 at New Orleans on Dec. 14, 2003. ... Burress was held out of the first two series because he was late for two meetings during the week, coach Tom Coughlin said. ... San Diego's 268 rushing yards were third-highest in team history.

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