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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lucky Number 13! Ahhh Yeaahhh!!

SAN DIEGO — Some things never change in San Diego, such as the great weather and LaDainian Tomlinson and the San Diego Chargers beating the hapless Oakland Raiders.

Tomlinson scored twice, the first in the wildcat, and the Chargers won 24-16 on Sunday, their 13th straight victory against the Raiders. It’s the longest active NFL winning streak by one team over another.

The Chargers (4-3) have swept the series for the sixth straight season. Many Chargers, including quarterback Philip Rivers, have never lost to the Raiders (2-6). It was San Diego’s seventh straight home win against the Raiders.

Oh, and Shawne Merriman got his first two sacks since 2007, dropping JaMarcus Russell late in the second quarter and again late in the fourth, then doing his spasmodic “Lights Out” dance. The outside linebacker has been slow coming back from knee surgery that cost him the final 15 regular-season games and both playoff games last year.

San Diego sacked Russell five times, with the other outside linebacker, Shaun Phillips, also collecting two.

With the Denver Broncos losing 30-7 at Baltimore, the Chargers pulled within two games of the AFC West lead. San Diego is trying to win its fourth straight division title.

The Chargers didn’t have to rally to win as they did in the season opener at Oakland, when they were physically beaten up by the Raiders despite taking a 24-20 victory.

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie intercepted Russell when tight end Zach Miller fell down. It was the first pickoff in 20 games for Cromartie, who had 10 in 2007 but dropped off to two last year.

The Chargers’ first play from scrimmage was a 53-yard pass from Rivers to Malcom Floyd, who replaced struggling Chris Chambers in the starting lineup. It gave San Diego first-and-goal on the 6. Tomlinson took the direct snap and ran around right end for a 7-0 lead.

Oakland tied it early in the second quarter after Rivers’ pass to Vincent Jackson glanced off the receiver’s hands and was intercepted by Chris Johnson, who returned it 20 yards to the San Diego 27. Justin Fargas scored on a 3-yard run to cap the short drive.

San Diego scored on its next two drives to go up 21-7. Rivers hit a wide-open Jackson on an 8-yard scoring pass and Tomlinson scored on a 10-yard run.

Rivers was 16 of 25 for 249 yards. Tomlinson had 56 yards on 18 carries. Fargas also carried 18 times for 59 yards.

Tomlinson had only one touchdown this season coming into the game. He sprained his right ankle in the season opener at Oakland and missed the next two games.

Tomlinson has accounted for 28 touchdowns against Oakland in his nine-year career: 22 rushing, three receiving and three passing.

All the Raiders got the rest of the way were three field goals by Sebastian Janikowski, of 48, 41 and 28 yards.

The Raiders were coming off their worst home loss ever, 38-0 to the New York Jets. Russell was pulled in that game after committing three turnovers.

Russell was 14 of 22 for only 109 yards.