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In Late Game Rally, Chargers Fall to Dolphins 20-16
The Chargers won the opening toss and elected to defer, bringing Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense up first. The Dolphins pieced together an 11 play drive over 5:47, spanning 76 yards, but the Bolts defense bunkered down in the red zone, limiting the damage to a field goal and a 3-0 Miami lead. On the Bolts first possession, the Chargers began the drive with a heavy dose of Ryan Mathews in both the run and pass game. Unfortunately, with San Diego threatening to score Philip Rivers overthrew Vincent Brown down field, and Brent Grimes picked it off, returning it to the Dolphins 21-yard line. A couple plays later, Johnny Patrick had the first interception of his career, picking the ball off at the Miami 47-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Ladarius Green hauled in a 32-yard pass on a perfect ball from Rivers. On the last play of the quarter, Tannehill hit Rishard Matthews for 39 yards to midfield.
The Dolphins marched down the field to start the second quarter, and it looked like the Chargers forced a fumble at the one-yard line, but Corey Liuget was called for roughing the passer, giving the Dolphins new life at the six-yard line. Two plays later, Daniel Thomas leaped over the top as the home team retook the lead, 10-7. On the next possession, the Bolts picked up one first down but then were forced to punt when Rivers couldn’t connect with Keenan Allen downfield. After Charles Clay picked up a first down, a well-designed blitz by Eric Weddle forced an eventual punt. An athletic 21-yard punt return by Keenan Allen brought the ball near midfield. After a penalty by Miami, Rivers hit Gates deep downfield for a 27-yard gain. However, Gates was called for a face mask that pushed the ball back 15 yards. It appeared as though the Bolts got into the end zone, but it was ruled that Rivers was beyond the line of scrimmage, making it an illegal forward pass. The team eventually
San Diego started the second half by completing a couple of first down throws to Keenan Allen, but a holding call on Jeromey Clary and taunting on Allen eventually lead to a punt. The Dolphins went 80-yards in five plays, punctuated by a 39-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to Clay, giving the Fins a 17-10 lead. The Chargers responded with an eight-play, 40-yard drive that culminated in a booming 50-yard Novak field goal to trim the Fins lead to 17-13. After a first down run by Thomas, Sean Lissemore sacked Tannehill that led to an eventual punt. Mathews kicked off the next series with the longest run of his career, a 51-yard sprint up the left sideline. As the third quarter came to an end, the Bolts faced a 3rd-and-5 from the Miami 11-yard line.
On the first snap of the fourth, Rivers couldn’t connect with Allen, and the Chargers settled for another field goal. Novak’s third field goal of the game made it a 17-16 game. The defense came up with a timely three-and-out, the first of the game, giving the Bolts the ball back. A 49-yard punt by Brandon Fields set the Chargers up with the ball at their own 17 yard line. Unfortunately, the Chargers also went three-and-out as Rivers was sacked on third down. Starting with the ball at their own 40, the Dolphins picked up three first downs before Weddle broke up a third and short pass. Miami's kicker, Caleb Sturgis, came in and kicked a 37-yard field goal for a 20-16 advantage. On the ensuing drive, the Chargers offense
With the game tied at 10 coming out of halftime, the Chargers were forced to punt. The Dolphins pieced together a five play 75-yard drive culminating in a 39-yard Charley Clay touchdown in which the tight end broke numerous Chargers' tackles. The score gave Miami the lead for good and they never looked back.
It was Over When…
With seven seconds to go and the ball at the Miami 25, the Chargers had time for one last play. Philip Rivers looked for Vincent Brown at the goal line, but the ball was knocked away by Brent Grimes, dropping the Chargers' record to 4-6.
Play of the Game
With 1:22 left in the third quarter, Ryan Mathews took a handoff from his own 33-yard line. Sprinting toward his left, he cut up field and ran for 51 yards to the Miami 16. The run was the longest of his NFL career.
Stat of the Game
Ryan Mathews 51-yard run toward the end of the third quarter was the longest of his career.
“We’ve dug ourselves in this hole. As a football team, we’ll dig ourselves out. We have to find a way. Each man has to look at himself and figure a way out to play a little better and do their job better. And it starts with me as the head coach. So that’s what we’re going to do as a football team.” – Head Coach Mike McCoy
“We didn’t capitalize on those opportunities. We got down in the red zone a couple times and had a chance to score touchdowns and we didn’t. We had some penalties that hurt us. We just didn’t make enough plays, and right now, we’re not playing well enough where we can afford to do that.” – Quarterback Philip Rivers
“As a team you definitely have to turn it around, make plays, and not get penalties. We need to get better and actually win. I feel disappointed on my play today but we have some guys in this locker room who won’t quit and we will definitely keep fighting.” – Defensive End Corey Liuget
“We’ve got to win. Next week we’ve got to win. We have no other choice. Everyone still believes. There is no one on our schedule that we feel we can’t beat if we go out,
“We’ll go back to work. Get back in the routine and get ready for the Chiefs. I mean we got a huge game coming up and that’s all you can really do.” – Running Back Danny Woodhead
Odds and Ends
San Diego outgained Miami 435 to 343. They had an advantage through the air, 281 to 239, as well as on the ground, 154 to 104.
Philip Rivers finished the game 22 of 34 for 298 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Ryan Mathews led all rushers with 19 carries for 127 yards, averaging 6.7 yards per carry.
Eric Weddle led all tacklers with seven.
Johnny Patrick recorded the first interception of his career.
The Bolts committed 10 penalties for 76 yards, while the Dolphins committed three for 15.
The Chargers held the advantage in time of possession 31:24 to 28:36