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LaDainian Tomlinson Making San Diego Chargers Look Bad

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Through four games of the NFL season, you would have to say the New York Jets' LaDainian Tomlinson is making the San Diego Chargers look foolish for letting him go.

Tomlinson’s 133-yard effort in the Jets’ 28-14 romp over the Buffalo Bills gave him 25 games with at least 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns, tying him for the most all time with the legendary Jim Brown. football guru Peter King was singing Tomlinson’s praises (I will not call him LT, there is only one of those and he does not wear green) this morning.

Tomlinson looks like he turned the way-back machine to 2007, which is when he had his last great season in San Diego. He’s fast. He can beat linebackers around the corner, which he didn’t do last year. He bursts into tacklers. Very dissimilar to the last couple of years in San Diego. He rushed for 3.8 yards a clip in 2008 and 3.3 last year, and the Chargers had seen enough. We all thought we’d seen enough. Raise your hand if you thought Tomlinson was going to be anything but a relief pitcher for the explosive Shonn Greene with the Jets. I certainly thought that would be the case. But here they are, sharing the job. The vet has 56 carries, the kid 52. As a team, the Jets are rushing for 168 yards a game — and 5.1 yards a clip.

With his 133-yard, two-TD rushing day, Tomlinson moved past Tony Dorsett into seventh place on the all-time list. And he joined Jim Brown as the only backs ever to rush for 100 yards and two touchdowns in a game 25 times. "I’m pinching myself,‘’ Tomlinson said. "I love this team. I love running behind such a great line. It’s incredible, really, that I was able to come here.’’

I asked him if he takes any delight in showing he’s not washed up. "The pleasure isn’t showing people they were wrong,‘’ he said. "The pleasure is showing people the Jets were right in the faith they showed in me. They made the right choice.’’

SI’s other big-time football writer, Don Banks, is issuing a mea culpa about Tomlinson today.

A month into the NFL’s regular season, honesty compels me to admit I was utterly wrong about LaDainian Tomlinson’s chances for a late-career renaissance with the Jets. I thought L.T. started to hit that post-30 wall as a running back last year in San Diego, and moving to the East Coast wasn’t going to turn back the clock in any significant way.

But it has, and Tomlinson clearly has some juice left in those legs. In a 38-14 win at Buffalo, Tomlinson looked as elusive as ever, running for 133 yards and a pair of touchdowns (1 and 26 yards) and adding three catches for 22 yards. It was the 47th 100-yard rushing game of L.T.’s 10-year career, and the first time he had cracked triple digits since running for 105 yards in October 2008.

Tomlinson is running with something to prove this season, and the Jets are benefiting. With both Tomlinson and second-year back Shonn Greene (22 carries for 117 yards) posting 100-yard games against the Bills, New York ran for a whopping 273 yards, or 102 more than it had passing. The Jets averaged 5.6 yards per carry against out-matched Buffalo, looking every bit the ground-and-pound team head coach Rex Ryan loves to field.

Through four games, L.T. has rushed for 341 yards on just 56 carries, an eye-opening 6.1 per rush.

Don’t feel bad, Don. The Chargers — and everyone else — appear to have been wrong about Tomlinson. Now the question is: How long can he keep this up?