ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – LaDainian Tomlinson was the ideal tonic for a blustery winter afternoon in Buffalo. The San Diego Chargers’ defense was pretty hot, too, holding off the Bills’ second-half comeback bid on Sunday.

Tomlinson had 178 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns in a 24-21 victory, helping the Chargers (10-2) extend their winning streak to six. It was Tomlinson’s sixth straight 100-yard game and seventh of the season.

With a 51-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, Tomlinson joined Eric Dickerson as the second NFL player to reach 1,200 yards rushing in each of his first six NFL seasons. The two scores gave Tomlinson 26 for the year, inching him within two of matching the single-season record set by Seattle’s Shaun Alexander last year.

The Chargers’ defense then did the rest in linebacker Shawne Merriman’s first game back from a four-game steroid suspension. In a game San Diego never trailed, Merriman finished with six tackles and two sacks, while the defense forced three turnovers in the first half and four overall.

The Bills (5-7) were limited to 231 yards offense, and only had one drive in which they produced three first downs. Buffalo’s first two scores came as result of short fields set up by San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers’ fumble and a 32-yard punt return by Jim Leonhard.

Buffalo’s final score came with Peerless Price’s 6-yard catch with 30 seconds left. The Bills’ bid to produce a third straight last-minute comeback ended when Buffalo failed on an onside kickoff attempt.

The warm-weather Chargers overcame persistent flurries and a cold wind whipping in off nearby Lake Erie. With a game-time temperature of 35, San Diego improved to 5-7 all-time when its 40 or colder.

It was so cold that the NFL officials wore their new winter pants – black with a white stripe down the side – for the first time this year.

Ahead 17-14, Tomlinson’s second score, coming on a 2-yard run with 3:26 left, sealed the win, capping a methodical and efficient 13-play, 80-yard drive that ate up more than 8 minutes. Tomlinson ended the drive with four rushes for 20 yards.

His 178 yards were 5 short of a season-high, and came against a Buffalo defense that was allowing an average 172 yards rushing in its previous four games.

Tomlinson’s two TDs gave him 106 for his career, vaulting into 12th place on the NFL list, ahead of Tim Brown and Don Hutson.

Rivers finished 17-of-29 for 160 yards, including a 11-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates, who led the Chargers with 90 yards receiving.

Buffalo tight end Robert Royal scored on a 5-yard catch, while Willis McGahee also scored on a 2-yard plunge.

The Bills lost linebacker Angelo Crowell, who did not return after hurting his lower left leg on the Chargers’ opening possession. San Diego linebacker Randall Godfrey did not return after hurting his left calf in the first quarter. San Diego receiver Keenan McCardell did not return after hurting his left leg after making a 7-yard catch midway through the third quarter.

AP-ES-12-03-06 1642EST

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