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In Final Seconds, Chargers Fall to Titans 20-17

Posted Sep 22, 2013

Here is your game recap for today's match between the Chargers and Titans.

With only seconds remaining, the Titans score on a long touchdown pass to take the lead and the victory, 20-17.

Photo Gallery: Chargers vs. Titans | More Photos

Winning the opening coin toss, the Chargers elected to defer until the second half and forced an immediate three-and-out.  With the ball at the Titans 49-yard line, Philip Rivers went a perfect 5-for-5, finishing with a seven-yard strike to Antonio Gates for a quick 7-0 lead.  A Reggie Walker sack on first down sparked the defense to force another three-and-out.  The Bolts drove it into Tennessee territory, but the drive stalled and Mike Scifres let loose a punt forcing the Titans to start the drive at their own eight yard line. A 39-yard run by Jake Locker followed by a 23 yard run by Chris Johnson had Tennessee in the Chargers red zone as the first 15 minutes of the game came to an end with the Chargers up 7-0.

Although the Titans had first and goal to start the second quarter, the Chargers defense stood tall and limited the damage to a field goal and a 7-3 lead. After a three-and-out by the offense, the Bolts defense forced Tennessee to punt as well.  On the play, Brett Kern dropped the ball and Jahleel Addae was there to stuff him as he picked it up, giving the Bolts the ball at the Titans 30-yard line.  After having the ball at the five yard line, a pair of penalties pushed it back to first and goal at the 30.  As a result, the Bolts settled for a 44-yard field goal attempt that Nick Novak nailed for a 10-3 lead.  On the ensuing drive, Locker marched the Titans down the field and then punctuated it with a designed seven-yard run to tie the game at 10-10.  With 1:08 remaining in the half, Rivers led the Bolts down to the 20 yard line with two seconds remaining; unfortunately the field goal attempt was blocked as the teams remained tied heading into halftime.

San Diego began the second half with the ball but was forced to punt at midfield.  With their first possession of the third quarter, the Titans drove down to the 25-yard line, but Rob Bironas missed a 43-yard field goal.  Taking over at his own 33-yard line, Ryan Mathews had a series of hard runs which opened things up for a deep 34-yard pass to Ladarius Green.  A pass to Antonio Gates put the ball at the one-yard line and three plays later Ronnie Brown pounded the ball into the end zone out of the shotgun formation.  As the third quarter ended, the Chargers led 17-10.

The Titans were in San Diego territory as the fourth quarter began.  A big stop in the backfield by Johnny Patrick on first down and a Larry English sack put the Titans in a tough third down situation, and the Bolts held to force a punt.  The Chargers then went three-and-out backed up to their own goal-line, and the Titans took over at their own 38-yard line. After converting on third and then fourth down, the Titans had the ball deep in Chargers territory. The Chargers kept the Titans out of the end zone but Titans' kicker Rob Bironas connected on a 37-yard field goal to shave the Chargers lead to 17-13.  The Chargers got the ball back on their own 22 and began marching down the field.  The Chargers only picked up one first down on the drive and were forced to punt with just over two minutes remaining in the game.  Jake Locker and the Titans offense took over deep in Chargers territory as the two minute warning struck.  The Titans reached midfield with just under one minute remaining and no timeouts. After an incomplete pass, Locker looked to the end zone and hit Justin Hunter for the touchdown and the victory.

Turning Point

The Chargers were up by four, but the Titans had the ball with under 30 seconds to play.  Jake Locker dropped back around the Bolts 35-yards line and saw one-on-one coverage between Justin Hunter and Crezdon Butler.  He fired it into the end zone and the rookie wideout came down with the ball with just 15 seconds to go after giving the home team a 20-17 lead.

It was Over When…

In desperation mode, the Chargers began lateralling the ball backwards as the clock struck zero.  The ball exchanged hands 10 times before ending up in the arms of Titan’s cornerback Verner, securing the victory for Tennessee.

Play of the Game

Philip Rivers capped off a 49-yard drive on the offense’s first possession by throwing a perfect strike to Antonio Gates in the back of the end zone.   The tight end showed nifty footwork to stay in bounds, giving the Chargers the lead just five minutes into the game.

Stat of the Game

After finishing with a third-down conversion rate over 50% in the first two games, the Chargers only converted 3-of-9 (33%).

Bolt Quotebook

“In a football game like this, too many mistakes at critical times during the game.  This is a very good football team.  We knew coming in here, the style of football they play, it’s a tough place to play, (they’re) a physical football team.  Give them credit.  But it comes down to the end of the game where we’ve got to make a play, and they made one more play than we did.  So give them the credit where it’s deserved.  We put them in a situation, and we didn’t finish the game.  So we’ve got to improve there.” – Head Coach Mike McCoy

“We’ve been through it already against Houston, and so we rebounded.  Obviously Dallas is as talented a team as they come, so there’s no feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to correct it, look at the film and see what could have been done better. There were some things out there where when you get a team on the ropes you’ve got to take advantage of it.  Convert third downs and get off the field on 3rd-and-10.  So there’s stuff that we can improve on.” – Safety Eric Weddle

“There were a lot of guys battling and fighting.  It was a physical game; a tough game.” – Quarterback Philip Rivers

“Our mentality is always the next man up.  If somebody goes down, somebody has to step in.  So throughout the week we’re preparing everyone to step in and make a play.  So there are no fingers to be pointed.  Tennessee had a guy who made a play at the end.” – Cornerback Derek Cox

“It was time to step up.  They called the plays and I should know them by now.  I just got to go out there and make that play.” – Cornerback Crezdon Butler

“When we look at that film, it’s going to be only one or two plays that determine this whole game.  The last play was one of them, and I’m pretty sure there were a couple more that determined it also.” – Defensive End Corey Liuget


Odds and Ends

Tennessee outgained San Diego 452 yards to 277.

Philip Rivers finished the game 20-for-24 for 184 yards, one touchdown and a 112.5 passer rating.

The Chargers gained 102 yards on the ground, led by Ryan Mathews 58 on 16 carries.

Danny Woodhead and Antonio Gates tied for a team-high 55-yards through the air. Woodhead’s came via a team-leading seven receptions while Gates had five.

Eric Weddle finished with a team-high nine tackles.

Reggie Walker and Larry English each recorded a sack on the afternoon.

With his touchdown catch, Antonio Gates moved passed Lance Alworth on the all-time points scored list for the Chargers.

Inactives for the Chargers were Brad Sorensen, Brandon Taylor, Shareece Wright, Manti Te’o, Tourek Williams, D.J. Fluker and Malcom Floyd.

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