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With the game on the line, Philip Rivers orchestrated another last-second drive but couldn't beat the Dolphins and the game clock at the same time.
The Chargers (4-6) lost to the Dolphins (5-5) on a jump ball from Rivers to Vincent Brown. The final score, 20-16.
The fourth quarter started with a missed opportunity. Keenan Allen slipped at the top of his route and never got to the area Rivers wanted him. The drive could've yielded an easy touchdown, but instead, it ended up as another Nick Novak field goal.
The Dolphins added a field goal of their own on their next drive. And when the Bolts got the ball back down 20-16, they couldn't capitalize on a 35-yard connection from Rivers to Ladarius Green and eventually punted.
The Dolphins moved the ball on their next drive enough times to hurt a comeback attempt. Rivers could've used a few more plays when the offense took over, but the Dolphins played keep-away perfectly and took advantage of some ill-timed poor tackling.
Rivers had only one timeout to work with, but he moved the Bolts into scoring range with passes to Brown and Seyi Ajirotutu. With six seconds left, he couldn't connect deep having his pass batted away. ReadRead
Ryan Mathews just gave the Bolts the big play they've been searching all game for.
The Bolts took over after forcing a three-and-out and Mathews did the rest. He rushed left, cut a little off the hip of D.J. Fluker, and ran for 51-yards.
After three quarters of play, the Bolts are knocking on the Dolphins' door. They trail 17-13, but are set up on the opposition's 15-yard line with a 3rd-and-5.
They'll need to find an answer for Charles Clay in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins' tight end caught three passes from Ryan Tannehill on a drive that broke a halftime tie, including a costly 39-yard score that left three Bolts in his wake.
Clay now has six catches for 90 yards and that touchdown. Moreover, the tight end and the quarterback Tannheill are clicking -- a strategy the Bolts' tried to use on their opening drive of the half.
The usually-reliable tandem of Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates just missed on a big pass play that would've set the Bolts up in Dolphins territory. A holding penalty by Jeromey Clary and a taunting penalty by Keenan Allen spoiled a promising drive even more, and after nine plays, the Bolts punted.
Six plays later, the Dolphins broke through on the Tannehill-Clay connection. Rivers misfired to Ladarius Green and Eddie Royal on the ensuing drive, but the Bolts cut into the Dolphins' lead with a 50-yard Nick Novak field goal.
Sean Lissemore notched the third sack of the game when Tannehill lined up under center next. Donald Butler wrapped up Lamar Miller on a third down screen pass and forced a big three-and-out.
That's when Mathews broke his big run, and that's where we pick up as the fourth quarter begins.
Philip Rivers was just a few yards short of his second touchdown toss to Antonio Gates. But he was also just a few yards too far when he scrambled beyond the line of scrimmage before throwing Gates' way.
After the penalty, Rivers came under pressure and couldn’t get a good pass off. Nick Novak booted his first field goal of the game, and after 30 minutes of play, the Bolts and Dolphins are tied at 10-10.
Daniel Thomas scored early in the quarter on a one-yard touchdown run. It capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive that started in the previous quarter and ended after five minutes.
But the Bolts reignited their pass rush and put Tannehill under fire on the ensuing Dolphins possession. Eric Weddle was part of a convoy of Chargers that sacked Tannehill and forced him off his spot, and the Dolphins had to punt.
Rivers orchestrated a drive that was the perfect blend of run and pass when the Bolts regained possession.
He threw to Antonio Gates to start the drive. Rivers found him on an out-breaking route that was called back when Gates' brutal stiff arm clasped around the facemask of a Dolphins defender.
Ryan Mathews picked up the slack on the next few plays when he dashed for 15 yards, and then eight yards on back-to-back carries. He’s got 55 yards on nine carries in the half.
Rivers ill-fated scramble interrupted the drive and the Bolts settled for three points. They’ll receive the ball to start the second half in hopes of breaking the halftime tie.
Stay tuned to Chargers.com for the second half of Bolts-Fins.
The Bolts' ground-and-pound opening drive was interrupted with a rare pick from Philip Rivers. But the defense responded with a big turnover of their own.
Rivers overshot Vincent Brown down the sideline and instead found a leaping Brent Grimes. But Johnny Patrick stepped in front of a pass intended for Brian Hartine a few plays later, and the pick set up a five-yard touchdown connection from Rivers to Antonio Gates.
After 15 minutes, the Bolts lead the Dolphins, 7-3.
The Chargers looked ready to seize an early lead when Rivers tossed his eighth pick of the year. They responded to the Dolphins' long field goal drive with a taxing, ground-based counterattack. Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead combined for seven consecutive touches to start the game and drove the Bolts down to their opponent's 33-yard line.
Rivers was intercepted on his first long pass of the day. But five plays later, Rivers and Co. regained possession when Patrick darted to the sideline from his slot coverage position and confused Ryan Tannehill. He easily jumped the pass intended for Hartline.
With new life, Rivers looked to his tight ends. He found Ladarius Green for a 17-yard pickup over Grimes. Then, he threw the way of Gates for their five-yard touchdown.
The Dolphins have the ball as the second quarter starts.
For the second time in four weeks, the Bolts are in the Sunshine State. And for the first time this season, they’re looking to end a losing streak.
The last San Diego Chargers (4-5) win came on Florida soil against the Jaguars, but today, they head further south as they seek to get back to .500 with a bout against the Miami Dolphins (4-5). Kickoff is slated for 1:05PM at SunLife Stadium.
Philip Rivers can continue his standout season with another strong showing on the road. Rivers is averaging 328 pass yards per game away from Qualcomm Stadium – and that stat could hold steady if he can repeat his past success against today’s opponent. Rivers has notched 300-yard passing games in his last two outings against the Dolphins. He’ll look to locate receivers like Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown, and the venerable Antonio Gates when he drops back to pass. And when Rivers hands the ball off, he gets to watch a trio of running backs – including Danny Woodhead, Ryan Mathews, and former Dolphin Ronnie Brown –pick up yards behind a gritty offensive line.
When Ryan Tannehill has time to throw, the second-year pro is a dangerous passer. And after a breakout game last week, Rishard Matthews became yet another pass-catching option for Tannehill in an aerial attack that includes receiver Mike Wallace and tight end Charles Clay. The Bolts will try to disrupt Tannehill’s timing with those targets against an offensive line that’s surrendered 37 sacks so far. At the same time, they’ll need to slow the tough rushing tandem of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas.
Inactives for the Chargers include: Brad Sorensen, Lavelle Hawkins, Brandon Taylor, Mike Remmers, King Dunlap, Kwame Geathers and Adrian Robinson.
Stay tuned to Chargers.com for the latest news and analysis from Bolts-Fins. Read