SAN DIEGO (AP) Even if the San Diego Chargers continue to struggle for an identity, Melvin Gordon isn't.
For the second day in a row, coach Mike McCoy referred to the second-year running back as a ''bell cow.''
Gordon led the herd all right, running for a career-high 196 yards in helping the Chargers hold off the Tennessee Titans 43-35 on Sunday. It was the ninth-highest total in franchise history and the most since LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 198 against Oakland on Oct. 14, 2007.
Gordon's NFL-high 11th touchdown was a go-ahead, 1-yard run in the third quarter.
''The way we ran the football, that was outstanding, with Melvin being the bell cow and really just pounding it home and being the physical runner that he is,'' McCoy said Monday.
Gordon ripped off a 47-yard run on third-and-7 in the closing minutes as the Chargers finally figured out how to close out a game when they held the lead.
''That's phenomenal. It doesn't get better than that,'' McCoy said. ''That's imposing your will on your opponent, whether it's the guys up front, whether it's the ball carrier making a special play like that to really seal the deal, and then to get the additional first down after that, was something special,'' McCoy said.
McCoy said Gordon became the bell cow after Danny Woodhead was lost for the season with a torn ACL in the second game of the season.
''We all understood what we were dealing with,'' McCoy said.
It's a dramatic turnaround from Gordon's miserable rookie season. He failed to score a touchdown, didn't have a 100-yard game, was twice benched for fumbling and then missed the last two games with a knee injury that required microfracture surgery in January.
Sunday was his second straight 100-yard game and third overall.
McCoy said Gordon's confidence is no different now that it was early in his rookie season.
''I think we saw that a lot early on last year, the first couple games of the year, the physical runner he was,'' McCoy said. ''Then from that point on, to a certain point during the season, whether it was us not blocking as well up front or him maybe making the wrong cut or guessing a little too much as the year went on last year. We've been talking about this for a long time. We weren't efficient enough.''
McCoy lauded Gordon for coming into the season in shape.
''He's in great shape right now. That's why he's able to do this,'' McCoy said.
The Chargers (4-5) remain in last place in the AFC West. They host the Miami Dolphins (4-4) on Sunday.
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