The Miami Dolphins came to San Diego looking for a big win against the 4-5 Chargers. And they got it, 31-24.
The game was a thrilling contest in which both teams had an opportunity to be victorious in the fourth quarter. The San Diego Chargers squandered many scoring chances throughout the day, as quarterback Philip Rivers was clearly having a horrible game behind center. He had arguably his worst game as a professional at a most pivotal time for the Bolts, throwing four fourth quarter picks on the day. Yes. Four interceptions in the last quarter of the game. Mind-blowing interceptions to boot. On throws that should not have ever been attempted.
The Chargers’ QB did, however, reach a very significant milestone on the afternoon as he joined the 300 TD club. The quarterback from N.C. State moved into the top-10 in touchdown passes thrown with the 300th and 301st of his career. He tied and passed John Elway on the prestigious list.
In a contest that might have meant the whole season, the Chargers continued to give the game away. The play calling was horrendous as the team continued to not be able to pound the ball into the end zone when the game was on the line. Stale, predictable play calling was once again a problem.
As I predicted, the Dolphins were able to stop Melvin Gordon, and the game would be on Rivers’ shoulders. I wrote that he would prevail and the team would run away with the game late. That is what should have happened, but it didn’t. To see Philip Rivers perform in this horrible manner was baffling, but it happens. The Dolphins were in his head all day and he was unable to remain poised in the pocket on almost every pass attempt.
A defensive quarter in which both teams tried to run the ball but were unsuccessful is what we saw in the first fifteen minutes of the game. Once again the Chargers won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball right away. Mike McCoy logic. The Chargers have typically scored on each of their first possessions in recent weeks, but the team failed to do so on Sunday. They got one first down that initial time with the ball, but stalled out at their own 38 yard line. Neither Melvin Gordon or Jay Ajayi broke any big runs, and it looked as though it might be a defensive game. It was more like a feeling-out process between the two teams.
The second quarter began with a 45-yard Josh Lambo field goal. The Chargers held the Dolphins to a three and out and immediately drove down the field as Antonio Gates made a couple of nice catches on the drive. Rivers hit his veteran TE for the 11-yard TD with 7:37 left in the second quarter. The Chargers were up 10-0 and looked to be on the verge of controlling the game. The team once again forced the Dolphins to a third and long, but Ryan Tannehill found Kenny Stills on a big 8-yard gain. I warned you about the wideout’s big play ability and sure enough, later on in the drive, he burned the Chargers for a 39-yard TD reception in which he got behind Dwight Lowery. 10-7 Chargers was now the score. Not a big deal, as the Bolts drove down the field when they got the ball back. However, on a key third down, where the team was already in field goal range at the Dolphins 28 yard line, Philip Rivers was sacked by Cameron Wake for an eight yard loss. That put the ball on the 36 yard line, but instead of attempting a 53-yard field goal with 55 seconds left in the half, the team elected to punt. A demoralizing end to a half in which the team should have done more. A common theme with this Chargers team.
The Dolphins got the ball out of the half and promptly ran down the field on the Chargers and took a 14-10 lead. It took the Dolphins two minutes and 31 seconds to go 75 yards on five plays. Damien Williams scored on a 2-yard TD run. Jay Ajayi broke a 40-yard run on that drive, but the Chargers responded after getting the ball back. They were able to drive down the field themselves and scored on a Hunter Henry TD reception in the corner of the end zone. The Bolts went back on top 17-14. It looked like things were going to be alright. The lead did not last long however, as Tannehill drove his team down the field and threw a TD pass to Damien Williams to give the Dolphins a 21-17 lead at the end of the third quarter. Here we go again. Chargers fans riding that emotional roller coaster.
The fourth quarter started with the Chargers punting to the Dolphins after an unsuccessful drive. Jakeem Grant muffed the punt and gave the Chargers the ball at the five yard line with a first and goal opportunity. After their fifth chance (assisted by a penalty), Rivers was picked off on a horrible read in which he threw into double coverage on a low percentage pass in the corner of the end zone. There was no reason to force the ball in there. To have the ball on your five yard line with a first and goal, at home, and not be able to score is an absolute joke. The Chargers defense held up after that and with four minutes left in the game, Tyrell Williams scored on a 51-yard TD pass from Philip Rivers that looked to be the game winner, making it 24-21 Chargers. That would be their last lead of the game. We all know nothing is easy when it comes to the San Diego Chargers and they showed that once again Sunday. On the Dolphins first play after the kick off, Ryan Tannehill hit DeVante Parker on a 56-yard pass down the sideline. Immediately the air went out of the stadium as the Chargers found yet another way to shoot themselves in the foot. They were able to recover from that bomb, only allowing a field goal to tie the game at 24. It looked like the team might still escape with a win. The Chargers had plenty of time to win the game as they once again drove down the field, but Rivers third pick of the quarter was lethal. A 60-yard interception return for TD by Kiko Alonso sealed the game for the Fish. The Chargers had a last opportunity with the ball, down seven with a minute left, but Rivers once again tossed the ball into a Dolphins’ hands and the Chargers season was essentially over.
Pain. That is what everyone feels. The team lost another game in which they should have won. Not as demoralizing as the games they gave away to New Orleans and Kansas City, but still a painful loss nonetheless. This team is dead in the water. The most positive of Chargers fans will tell you they can run the table and still get into the playoffs at 10-6. However, there is no chance this beat up team wins all their games, and even if they did, a 10-6 record wouldn’t guarantee a playoff game. With a bye week coming up they will look to get healthy. Key injuries are still an issue that needs to be resolved moving forward.