NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- LaDainian Tomlinson wanted to eliminate all the risks of trying a field goal in overtime.
So he took the ball, cut to his left and outran everyone on a 16-yard touchdown run with 7:29 left in overtime, finishing off the Chargers' rally from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans 23-17 on Sunday.
"Anything can happen with a field goal," Tomlinson said.
The Chargers (8-5) won their third straight and seventh in nine games and are two games ahead of Denver in the AFC West title race.
"To come in here and get a win is really, really big for our guys," San Diego coach Norv Turner said. "And then the way we did it, I think the key for our football team today was we fought hard."
The Chargers won a physical game in which linebacker Shawne Merriman got two sacks early in the first half, then spent the rest of the day sidelined by an injured left knee. Tight end Antonio Gates hurt his back and returned to catch the game-tying touchdown.
Philip Rivers, intercepted twice, hurt his left knee in the first half and returned to finish the game wearing a brace.
"He went out there and gave us everything he had," Merriman said. "He wasn't 100 percent. You could see it. He was limping around all the time, still went out and fought for us."
Rivers, the Alabama native with lots of family and friends in the stands, had 37 yards passing through three quarters. He led the rally by throwing two TD passes in the final 7:29 -- the last with 9 seconds left.
"He kept getting up," said Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, who had three of Tennessee's five sacks. "He stayed after it. Especially after the fourth quarter. We knocked him down a couple times. I had him wrapped up once and he was able to get the pass off. He showed a lot of resolve at the end of the game."
Tennessee (7-6) had a chance to run out the clock in a game the Titans desperately needed to stay close to Cleveland and Jacksonville in the chase for the AFC's two wild card berths. But they gave the ball back to San Diego with 2:24 left in regulation, then went three-and-out in overtime.
The loss wasted a strong performance by the Tennessee defense, which had three interceptions. But the Titans couldn't get close enough to Rivers when it mattered as he tossed a 7-yard TD to Tomlinson with 7:29 left to cap a 92-second drive.
"It was as physical a game as I've been in," Rivers said. "That's the way it goes. I didn't feel like I was running for my life."
San Diego had the ball for 27 of the game's final 30 offensive plays. Before the game-tying drive, the Chargers had 166 yards of offense and 10 first downs. They gained 175 yards between the final 2:24 of regulation and overtime.
On the final drive of regulation, Rivers moved the Chargers 80 yards in 2:15. The big play came on fourth-and-5, a 20-yard pass to Chris Chambers, who stretched out and tried to get his arms under the ball to scoop it away from the ground.
The Titans thought the ball hit the turf. It was reviewed, but referee Bill Carollo ruled there wasn't indisputable evidence that the ball came out.
Turner called it as good a catch as anyone would see. Chambers said he was lucky there wasn't enough evidence to reverse the call.
"I made sure the ball was in my arms as I got up," he said.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher, who called this a disappointing loss, wasn't happy.
"I saw the ball on the ground. That happens. He just didn't get the look that he wanted," Fisher said.
In overtime, the Titans forced the Chargers to punt. But San Diego pinned Tennessee at its 2 when Kassim Osgood stopped the ball from going into the end zone, flipping it to Antonio Cromartie, who downed it.
The Titans ran twice, then Young threw incomplete.
That gave Tomlinson another chance. He ran on four of the six plays, the last his sprint out to the left and into the end zone to finish off the comeback. He wound up with 26 carries for 146 yards.