EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Facing his former team made LaDainian Tomlinson sick.
The veteran running back, who spent his first nine NFL seasons with San Diego before leaving as a free agent for New York, got his first start of the season Sunday. He hung around as long as he could before leaving with the flu, and didn't play a role as the Jets rallied for a 27-21 victory.
"I woke up this morning feeling pretty bad, but was able to push through as long as I could," Tomlinson said. "I basically didn't have any energy and the flu really just took over."
Tomlinson finished with five rushes for 14 yards and three receptions for 37. He went over 600 career catches, but it was his backfield partner, Shonn Greene, who had the biggest impact with 112 yards rushing, averaging 5.6 yards a carry.
"Before the game, he was ill, it looked like NASCAR coming in," Ryan said. "Like getting four tires and gas, they were all working on him."
Tomlinson said during the week he held no bitterness toward the Chargers, who had little interest in retaining him after the '09 season. The 2006 league MVP came to New York, had a solid season last year and has been a key figure in the locker room for his leadership.
"I wasn't going to treat it like a playoff game because both teams are going to continue to play the rest of their schedule," he said. "But I'd be lying if I said this didn't add some satisfaction. Just moving on, you never really get to close that chapter until you face them, and the win makes it even better."
Rookie defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis also left with an ankle injury in the opening quarter. He didn't return.
San Diego left tackle Marcus McNeill and running back Ryan Mathews both returned late in the second quarter after leaving with injuries.
McNeill went down on a running play with an undisclosed injury, but eventually walked to the sideline and sat on the Chargers' bench. He was replaced by Brandyn Dombroski before coming back in for San Diego's third series of the half.
But McNeill sat out most of the second half and the Chargers refused to reveal the nature of his injury.
Early in the second period, Mathews went back to the locker room with a thumb injury, but he also came back on that third series.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press