(September 15, 2009)

In a scene eerily similar to the end of the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Chargers all-time leading rusher LaDainian Tomlinson stood on the sidelines during a crucial late-game drive and watched the Chargers move down the field without him.

Darren Sproles scored a touchdown with 18 seconds left to cap off an 88-yard drive in the final 2:30 to lift the Chargers to a come-from-behind 24-20 win over the Oakland Raiders Monday night while Tomlinson stood on the sidelines with a sprained ankle.

"With two minutes left, I thought Darren would be better in that situation," Tomlinson said. "We obviously were going to throw the ball a lot and so that was the best decision.

Tomlinson hobbled around the locker room after the game, his right ankle visibly swollen after he said he "rolled it" during a reception in the first quarter. It was the same play where he fumbled for the first time since October 27, 2006. Tomlinson continued to play, and finished with 55 rushing yards and a touchdown - his 23rd touchdown against the Raiders - but could not play when it mattered most.

Fortunately, Philip Rivers was on. He completed six of seven passes for 78 yards on the game-clinching drive.

"That was an unbelievable drive," Tomlinson said. "They're a good defense, especially against the pass. An unbelievable call there at the end with the trap play, they had no idea that was coming."

To those who will now argue that Tomlinson is now officially over the hill and injury-prone, Tomlinson said, "What do you do? You play the game. That's all you can do."

Tomlinson said he was not sure of the severity of his ankle injury and would have it re-evaluated on Tuesday.

Tomlinson also watched dramatic wins against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2007 and 2008 playoffs. In 2007, Michael Turner, now with the Atlanta Falcons, helped lift the Charges to victory. In 2008, it was Sproles who scored the game-winning touchdown against the Colts in overtime.