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Chargers Come Close but Fall to Bears
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San Diego fell behind early 20-0, but they could never get over the hump despite a furious comeback as they fell to the Chicago Bears 33-28 Thursday night.
The Chargers defense came ready to play right from the get go, registering two sacks on the first three plays of the game by Jarrett Johnson and Corey Liuget. After the offense punted, Jay Cutler hit Brandon Marshall for a five-yard touchdown, set up by a 58–yard run by Matt Forte. A tough-luck interception by Chris Conte set the Bears up at San Diego’s 34-yard line, but on Chicago’s first play, Donald Butler intercepted Cutler at the six. After Ryan Mathews had four strong runs and Antonio Gates had a clutch 15-yard completion, the Bears forced a strip sack that set them up at the Bolts’ 35. The quarter ended with Chicago up 14-0 after Matt Forte scored a three-yard TD.
Rivers and the offense had a nice drive going to open the second quarter, but a sack on third down at the Chicago 45-yard line forced a punt. The second-team defense came out onto the field and held the Bears to a punt. Unfortunately, Keenan Allen muffed it and the Bears recovered at the San Diego 26-yard line. The Bolts defense limited the damage to a field goal. However, on the Chargers next snap on offense, Nick Hardwick and Charlie Whitehurst botched the snap and the Bears pounced on it. The turnover led to another field goal and a 20-0 lead. Put into a hurry-up offense, Charlie Whitehurst orchestrated a nine-play, 80-yard drive culminating in the Bolts first points of the game. Fozzy Whittaker sprinted straight up the gut for a three-yard TD run to trim the lead to 20-7 at the end of the first half.
Starting the second half with the ball, the offense stalled at its’ own 35-yard line. Richard Kent boomed a punt, and on the coverage, D.J. Smith forced a fumble that Frank Beltre recovered at the Bears 16-yard line. Two plays later, Whitehurst hit Ladarius Green for a 12-yard touchdown strike, and the Bolts trailed by just six points, 20-14. On the ensuing kickoff, Michael Ford returned the ball 100 yards to the Bolts four-yard line, and two plays later Michael Bush ran into the end zone to push the score to 27-14. The offense went three-and-out, but the defense responded with a strong series of their own to give the Bolts the ball in good field position. Whitehurst and the offense capitalized with a touchdown pass to Mike Willie, and just like that the lead was cut to six points once again, 27-21. The defense forced a punt, and as the clock turned from the third quarter into the fourth, Brad Sorensen and the offense took over.
After picking up a first down, the Chargers were forced to punt. However, the Bears blocked Kent’s punt attempt, setting them up at the 20-yard line. Once again, the defense came up big by limiting the damage to a field goal, with the Bears extending the lead to 30-21 with just over 10:18 left in the game. Sorensen marched the Bolts down the field in less than three minutes, ending the drive with another Willie touchdown to trim the lead to 30-28. At the two minute warning, the Chargers had to punt the ball away from deep in their territory after going three and out. Starting with field position in the Chargers territory, the Bears go only four plays for four yards but end the drive with a 48-yard field goal to extend their lead 33-28. Sorensen attempted a hail mary as time expired, but the ball was knocked out of the back of the end zone.
The Chargers were down by just six points when Richard Kent lined up to punt the ball away early in the fourth quarter. As he went to unleash the kick, the Bears’ J.T. Thomas got his hands on it coming up with a crucial block. Chicago took over on the San Diego 20-yard line and would go on to kick a field goal to give them the two score advantage they nursed to go on to win the game.
It was Over When…
Brad Sorensen threw a desperation Hail Mary as time expired to a gaggle of receivers in the endzone. Unfortunately, a Chicago defender punched the ball out of bounds, forcing the Bolts to leave Soldier Field in defeat.
Play of the Game
Ladarius Green ran a crisp route up the seam, finding a narrow spot between three defenders just across the goal line. Charlie Whitehurst froze the Bears defense with a great ball-fake to Fozzy Whittaker, then threw a perfect ball to his tight end for a 12-yard touchdown pass, Green’s second in two games.
Stat of the Game
The Chargers were a perfect 4-for-4 in red zone efficiency, coming away with a touchdown each time.
“There are no excuses here. We’re going to move on. We’re going to learn from the film. We’ll go back and have a meeting tomorrow with the team, and we’ll evaluate the film as a staff and make whatever changes or improvements we have to do moving forward.”– Head Coach Mike McCoy
“I thought we did some good things. We moved the ball well. We just can’t turn the ball over. Really, that’s the only negative I can find offensively. Obviously you want to score. But I thought the guys up front were solid. We got beat one time. The other time, the sack-fumble, was 100% my fault. I was too deep. I looked at the picture and saw it right away. It was absolutely perfect by the left tackle. He’s running the guy by him 10-plus yards deep, and there I am standing there. But I can fix that. That’s already been fixed right now. And you start to see there’s the difference between a gimme touchdown to Vincent Brown or a sack fumble.” – Quarterback Philip Rivers
“I feel good. The O-Line is doing a great job just opening up holes and I’m just running behind them. They’re doing a good job of coming down and getting an extra guy in the box. So I’ve just got to make the play.” – Running Back Ryan Mathews
Odds and Ends
The Chargers stopped the Bears on 9-of-12 third-down conversions, allowing Chicago to convert at just a 25% clip.
Ryan Mathews continued his strong start to the preseason, carrying the rock nine times for 45 yards and a 5.0 yard-per-carry average.
Ladarius Green caught his second touchdown of the preseason.
Mike Willie caught two touchdown passes in the second half.
Charlie Whitehurst finished 9-of-13 for 97 yards, two touchdowns and a 130.4 passer rating.
Eleven Chargers recorded a reception.
The Chargers churned out 141 yards on the ground. Read