Chargers get a win on the road

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It’s been a long time coming for the San Diego Chargers; nearly two months since they last won a game. In press conference after press conference quarterback Philip Rivers had remained optimistic, stating just three weeks ago the record didn’t matter anymore, that they just needed to find a way to win a game.

They did that Sunday in Jacksonville, Florida when they beat the Jaguars, 31-25. After the game head coach Mike McCoy said, “We won a game, it’s unbelievable. Losing sucks. There’s nothing like winning.”

At times it looked like the Chargers had the game well in hand, but other times the Jaguars came back. It wasn’t until the final minute that Chargers fans felt like this would go in the win column.

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (Claudia Gestro)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers
(Claudia Gestro)

Jacksonville got the scoring started when they kicked two field goals in the first quarter. The San Diego defense was strong enough to keep the Jaguars from scoring touchdowns, but the San Diego offense couldn’t get anything going in the first.

In the second quarter the Chargers exploded with three touchdowns. In a drive that started late in the first, Rivers marched his team 63 yards down the field in seven plays. Rivers connected on three passes from four attempts and rookie running back Melvin Gordon ran twice for 16 yards.

It was a two-yard pass to Dontrelle Inman that put the Chargers on the scoreboard, less than a minute into the second period.

Jacksonville kicked another field goal, but the Chargers followed it with a 13-play drive of 83 yards that ended with a nine-yard pass from Rivers to tight end Antonio Gates.

In the drive Gordon carried the ball twice for nine more yards and both wide receiver Stevie Johnson and running back Danny Woodhead got some plays in the drive.

On the Jaguars’ next drive quarterback Blake Bortles, was intercepted, his first of three in the game. The Chargers got the ball on the Jacksonville 22 and three plays later had their third touch down of the game when Philip Rivers passed to Antonio Gates for the third touchdown of the game and Gates’ second of the day.

Jacksonville got another field goal in the third and then at the end of the quarter started a drive that ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Bortles to tight end Julius Thomas to start the fourth quarter.

That closed the gap for Jacksonville, 24-19, but the Chargers answered the score with a TD of their own: a pass from Rivers to receiver Stevie Johnson.

Head Coach Mike McCoy (Claudia Gestro)
Head Coach Mike McCoy (Claudia Gestro)

Jacksonville was able to block a punt late in the fourth quarter that led to a touchdown, but it wasn’t enough to win the game.

Sunday’s game was between two teams with poor records that can at times perform very well. Jacksonville moved the ball, but they had trouble getting into the end zone when they were in the red zone. Four times they had to settle for a field goal.

Quarterback Blake Bortles made two forward passes after crossing the line of scrimmage, costing his team both yards and downs.

After the game he told reporters, “I don’t know from a coach’s perspective what you tell a guy that does that, ‘Quit being an idiot?’ I don’t know. I’ve never done that in my life, and I did it twice today.”

Philip Rivers had another good day. He said, “By no means does 3-8 sound wonderful, but winning today sure does.”

His status as one of the NFL’s great quarterbacks was enhanced by his four touchdown passes and the yards the Chargers produced in the air. Rivers passed Joe Montana and tied Vinny Testaverde for 11th on the NFL’s all-time passing touchdown list, getting 275. He also became 17th QB in NFL history to throw for 40,000 yards. For a guy who is all about the team, Rivers’ reaction was what people would expect.

“You think about all the guys that protected you over the years, all the guys that made catches, it’s definitely a collective kind of milestone. Every pass has to go to someone who has a hand in making it a completion. It’s a lot of yards. I’m just glad that I’ve been able to be out there for 155 games in a row to reach something like that.”

Chargers head coach Mike McCoy was extremely animated after the game. He was all smiles, telling reporters, “It’s always nice to smile in here. It’s been a long time.”

Another good point for the Chargers: their rookie running back, Melvin Gordon, had a good day. he had 14 carries for 60 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry.

Running Back Melvin Douglas (Claudia Gestro)
Running Back Melvin Douglas (Claudia Gestro)

The Chargers are 3-8, the Jaguars are 4-7, so neither team is having a banner year, but Jacksonville still has a shot at the playoffs, believe it or not. They happen to be in a division where the leaders, the Indianapolis Colts, are only 6-5. The Chargers are in the AFC West and they are at the bottom of the division with no chance of overtaking the Denver Broncos, who with their win over the once undefeated New England Patriots, are now 9-2.

But the win was a sweet victory after six weeks of losing games, most of which they should have won, that they were winning late into the fourth quarter.

Next week the Chargers face the Broncos at home in Qualcomm Stadium. The jaguars will head to Nashville to face the Tennessee Titans.

 L.A. Post-Examiner Staff contributed to this article. Top photo via YouTube.