4th and Seven
Everyone knows head coach Mike McCoy is not one to go for it on fourth down. But, with the season lost, perhaps McCoy finally realized he had nothing to lose in going for it. After the Jaguars converted a 21-yard touchdown on fourth-and-seven in the fourth quarter that narrowed the Chargers lead to 24-19, McCoy elected to go for it on the ensuing series. It was also fourth-and-seven, on Jacksonville’s 38-yard line, and quarterback Philip Rivers SCRAMBLED for eight yards and the first down. The Chargers would later score on a five-yard floater from Rivers to Stevie Johnson in the back of the endzone that extended the Chargers lead to 31-19 with 4:45 left in the fourth quarter. Naturally, San Diego made it interesting at the end. The Jaguars turned the ball over on downs the ensueing series and the Chargers tried to run out the clock before being forced to punt. Mike Scifres punt was blocked and the Jaguars recovered at San Diego’s 14-yard line. Blake Bortles quickly found Allen Robinson for an eight-yard touchdown that narrowed the score 31-25 after the missed point after. Jacksonville was unable to recover the onside kick, and the Chargers snapped their six-game losing streak with their first road win of the season.
After perhaps his worst game of the season against the Chiefs last week, Rivers was back to form against the Jaguars. He finished 29-of-43 passing for 300 yards and four touchdowns, including two to Antonio Gates at the end of the first half. Rivers passed Joe Montana (12th) and tied Vinny Testaverde for 11th place all-time with 275 career passing touchdowns. He also became just the 17th quarterback in NFL history to pass for over 40,000 yards.
Punt Return Yards!
Through 10 games this season, the Chargers had a grand total of one punt return yard. Finally, they have more than that. Javontee Herndon, who muffed a punt last week against the Chiefs, had two returns that went for 15 and 18 yards. Both returns facilitated Chargers scores. On the first, Herndon caught the ball at Chargers 22 yard-line and returned it the 37. On the second, Herndon caught the ball at the Chargers 16-yard line and returned it to the 34-yard line.
Big plays, Big Stops
All season, the Chargers defense has been plagued by big plays. The same storyline continued Sunday in Jacksonville. The Chargers allowed seven plays of 20-plus yards, but the difference was that San Diego was able to come up with some big stops. The Jaguars settled for four field goals, including three inside the red zone. The Chargers didn’t, however, come up with a stop on a crucial 21-yard touchdown reception by Julius Thomas on fourth-and-seven early in the fourth quarter.
Manti Te’o recorded his second career reception, his first since intercepting Tom Brady late last season, late in the second quarter, and it was a big one. After the Chargers offense scored a touchdown on a Rivers-Gates hookup with under two minutes remaining in the half, Te’o jumped a Bortles’ pass intended for Robinson at Jacksonville’s 33-yard line and returned it to the 22. The Chargers quickly capitalized with another Rivers-to-Gates touchdown that pushed San Diego’s lead to 21-9 at the end of the half. It was just the Chargers’ sixth interception of the season.
–Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)