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Maybe the rest of the league shouldn’t write off this Chargers team just yet. San Diego finally snapped its miserable six game losing streak on Monday night with an eye-opening 38-14 victory over the Jaguars. Many people claimed the 4-7 Chargers season was over heading into this primetime matchup. However, their first win since October 9th put them just two games behind Denver and Oakland for top spot in the AFC West.
“It’s been a rough six weeks. I haven’t put a complete game together, but I don’t care about the numbers. I just want to win,” said quarterback Phillip Rivers. Rivers has been criticized throughout the year for having what has probably been the worst season of his career. He has a league high 17 interceptions and has looked nothing like the elite quarterback that he has been for several years.
But maybe all Rivers needed was a simple change in the calendar. He now has a 23-2 regular season record in the months of December and January. The Chargers are known for making a run at some point every year, and they hope this win will spark another one.
A win seemed highly probable early on after the Chargers jumped out to a two possession first quarter lead on the 3-8 Jags. Mike Tolbert capped off an 11 play, 70 yard drive with a 13 yard touchdown run on San Diego’s first possession. They then pushed the lead to 10-0 with a 29 yard field goal with less than a minute remaining in the quarter.
Jacksonville came right back in the second quarter. Rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert led a 79 touchdown yard drive that concluded with a 9 yard touchdown pass to Maurice Jones-Drew. Gabbert went a perfect five for five on the drive, accounting for 49 yards.
The Jaguars offense quickly returned to the field after forcing a three and out. Jones-Drew was in the middle of the action once again after taking a 3rd and 3 shovel pass 48 yards down to the San Diego 4 yard line. Gabbert finished off the drive with another touchdown pass – a 5 yard fade to Cecil Shorts on 3rd and goal giving the Jags a 14-10 lead with 2:32 remaining in the half.
From that point on it was all Chargers the rest of the way. Rivers immediately took the Bolts 68 yards to the end zone after throwing a 22 yard back shoulder touchdown pass to rookie Vincent Brown. Jacksonville now trailed 17-14 with less than a minute and a half until halftime.
Chargers safety Eric Weddle then recorded his sixth interception of the year after picking off Gabbert at the San Diego 41. Rivers would go on to add one more touchdown before halftime with a 35 yard throw down field to Vincent Jackson. The Chargers remained just as aggressive in the passing game to open the third quarter. Malcolm Floyd hauled in a 52 yard play action bomb from Rivers to extend the lead to 31-14.
In just 4 minutes and 22 seconds the momentum of the game completely swung. San Diego scored 21 points during that span and never looked back. Despite two nice drives early on, Gabbert was unable to put anything together for the remainder of the night. He did not attempt many throws down field and went just 19-33 for 195 yards. The fans would boo him at times as he struggled mightily.
The Jaguars relied a lot on Jones-Drew, who passed LeSean McCoy as the league’s leading rusher in the fourth quarter. But 97 yards on 20 carries still was not enough to make up for Gabbert’s mistakes. Ryan Matthews, however, had a huge night for the Chargers. He ran for 112 yards on 13 carries and broke a 31 yard touchdown run for the game’s final score in the fourth quarter.
But Rivers was the star of the night. The 29-year-old finally looked like himself going for 294 yards and 3 touchdowns on 22-28 passing. It would be easy to overlook this victory for the Chargers since it came against a 3-8 team that fired their coach the previous week. Their rookie quarterback has played very poorly as well.
But the Jaguars sport one of the top defensive units in the league and the Chargers torched them. Rivers and the rest of the team have a lot to be proud of and could certainly build off of this win.
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