On December 10, 2006, the San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson racks up his 29th touchdown of the year, breaking the National Football League (NFL) record for touchdowns scored during a single season.
Born in 1979, Tomlinson was selected by the Chargers in the first round of the NFL draft in 2001, after a triumphant career at Texas Christian University. As the team’s starting running back, he made an immediate impact, proving lethally effective at rushing, catching and passing. In 2003, he became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and record 100 receptions in the same season. He was also the seventh player to run, catch and throw for a touchdown in the same game, a Chargers victory over the Oakland Raiders in October 2005. Tomlinson broke some ribs near the end of the 2005 season, but continued to play, finishing with a then-career-high 20 touchdowns (18 rushing, two receiving).
From the beginning to the end of the 2006 season, Tomlinson was unstoppable, leading the Chargers to the playoffs (though not to the Super Bowl) and smashing NFL records along the way. Facing the Denver Broncos on December 10, Tomlinson took a handoff at the Broncos’ seven-yard line into the end zone for his third touchdown of the day and 29th of the season, breaking the previous record set by Shaun Alexander of the Seattle Seahawks in 2005. By season’s end, he had improved his total to 31 touchdowns. He also set new single-season records for rushing touchdowns (28) and total points scored (186). The previous points record, held by Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers, had stood since 1960.
Despite San Diego’s loss to the New England Patriots in the division playoffs, Tomlinson raked in almost every available honor during his record-breaking season, including the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year awards.