SAN DIEGO (Nov. 5, 2006) -- Whatever Marty Schottenheimer said at halftime was all it took to snap LaDainian Tomlinson and the rest of the San Diego Chargers out of their funk.
After all, trailing the lowly Cleveland Browns isn't the ideal place for a team that would like to think it ranks among the NFL's elite.
Tomlinson had another monster game, scoring three touchdowns late in the second half and finishing with 172 yards on 18 carries to lift the Chargers to a sloppy 32-25 win.
The Chargers also got a big effort from several defensive backups who were filling in for players missing due to injuries and, in outside linebacker Shawne Merriman's case, a four-game suspension for a positive drug test.
Schottenheimer "gave us a mouthful, a tongue-lashing," Tomlinson said. "We deserved it, though. I'd be lying if I told you we weren't getting frustrated because we were. But we kept our poise when we needed to."
The star running back had a whopping 9.6 yards per carry, gaining 47 yards on his first nine carries and 125 on his last nine.
Tomlinson had consecutive 100-yard rushing games for the first time this season. Last week he ran for 183 yards, had 57 yards receiving and scored three times in a win against St. Louis. He has three 100-yard rushing games this season, plus 14 touchdowns.
With Cleveland's offense sputtering against a defense missing its two best pass rushers, Phil Dawson kicked a club-record six field goals -- from 37, 20, 42, 30, 36 and 35 yards.
"Give me a little hole I can squeeze through into the secondary," said Tomlinson, who scored on runs of 7 and 8 yards in the fourth quarter. "Once I get into the secondary, things could get very interesting."
"I thought they wore us down," he said.
Until Tomlinson's first TD, the Chargers hadn't scored on offense since Nate Kaeding kicked a 29-yard field goal on the game's opening drive.
"I knew we were far better than that," Schottenheimer said.
They did get a defensive touchdown when Marques Harris, making his second start in place of injured outside linebacker Shaun Phillips, recovered Charlie Frye's fumble in the end zone in the second quarter.
On the way back to the bench, Harris did a cartwheel and a backflip to celebrate his first NFL score.
"It's hard, at 240 pounds, doing that, especially with a helmet and shoulder pads on," Harris said. "But when you're excited, you can do a lot."
"That shows the strength of our defense, the guys who can step up and come in and actually do a good job and not just be out there taking up space," Harris said. "A great team has good depth. The game's not going to stop for certain players."
The Browns (2-6) finally scored a TD with 1:11 left when Braylon Edwards caught a 4-yard pass from Frye.
Winslow and Gates talked and shook hands while both offenses milled around during a long review in the second quarter.
Winslow had 78 yards on a career-high 11 catches, which tied for second-highest in franchise history. Gates had two catches for 22 yards.
The Browns were trying to win consecutive games for the first time in more than three seasons. For a while, it looked like they might succeed.
The Browns led 12-10 after a first half that was as wacky as it was tedious, with five field goals and only one TD.
Dawson kicked his fourth field goal of the half, from 30 yards, with 1 second left. It came at the end of a frantic two-minute drill that began when San Diego's Keenan McCardell fumbled after a catch.
San Diego had taken a 10-6 lead on Harris' fumble recovery. With the ball on the Browns 18, Frye dropped back, was hit by Randall Godfrey, stumbled and lost the ball. Harris went to pick it up and kicked it toward the end zone, where he jumped on it.
"I thought we were going to come out and win," said Frye, who injured his thumb in practice late in the week. "Mistakes -- they're going to kill you."
Notes: Dennis Northcutt had an 81-yard punt return to set up Dawson's second field goal. ... Browns CB Leigh Bodden reaggravated an ankle injury and LB Leon Williams also injured an ankle.