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Jets catch Chargers late

Posted Oct 23, 2011

San Diego built a 21-10 halftime lead, but two Chargers interceptions in the fourth quarter led to disappointment, dropping the Bolts to 4-2.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – An ideal beginning gave way to thick disappointment Sunday.

San Diego’s strong first half wasn’t enough as this time another one-possession game swung the other way.

The Chargers built a 21-10 halftime lead but couldn’t deliver the knockout blow, falling to the New York Jets, 27-21. The Jets’ two fourth-quarter interceptions were a major factor in the outcome.

“In a game like today’s, you can’t give away anything, but you certainly can’t turn the ball over,” Head Coach Norv Turner said.

A play by All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis transformed a potential put-away drive into the first Jets lead of the game early in the fourth quarter. Philip Rivers led the Bolts to the 25 and found a window to fit the ball to Vincent Jackson on third-and-5. An incompletion would’ve led to a Nick Novak field goal attempt, but the ball ricocheted off Jackson’s back shoulder and popped into Revis’ hands.

Revis sprinted 64 yards the other direction to set up Plaxico Burress’ third touchdown, which gave New York their first lead of the game at 24-21.

“A foot more out in front (and Vincent probably catches that pass),” Turner said.

Said Rivers: “It’s not necessarily a great throw. The ball’s not round. It doesn’t always bounce the way you want it to.”

San Diego (4-2) stormed into MetLife Stadium and clocked New York (4-3), appearing on course to reach its best start to a season in nine years. Donald Butler made a silencing opening salvo that kept the Chargers in front for three-and-a-half quarters.

Shaun Phillips took tight end Dustin Keller to the ground while Butler’s one-handed strip ripped the ball from Keller’s hands. San Diego’s rookie linebacker skimmed down the left sideline for a 37-yard touchdown return. It was the kind of big play this defense has been waiting for, and it gave San Diego a lead on the game’s fourth play from scrimmage.

Antonio Gates solved New York’s red zone defense with a 2-yard touchdown catch, then drew a pass interference penalty near the goal line to set up a 1-yard Mike Tolbert touchdown run.

San Diego built an 11-point halftime lead and equaled the most points in a half since Dec. 12, 2010, in a 31-0 win against Kansas City. The Chargers converted 6-of-7 third downs in the first half against the NFL’s best defense in that category but went 1-of-7 the rest of the way with two fourth-quarter interceptions.

“It really was a tale of two halves and they ended up on top,” Rivers said.

Burress caught four passes, three for touchdowns, and Shonn Greene rushed for 112 yards for the Jets.

Gates caught five passes for 54 yards and a touchdown to lead the Chargers, who drove to the 49-yard line in the final minute but turned the ball over on downs.

“It’s all about us. We took our foot off the gas pedal. We lost because of it,” an emotional Randy McMichael said.

Said Eric Weddle: “They made more plays than we did. In the end, that’s all you can really say as a competitor. They made the plays and we’ve got more work to do.”

The Chargers dropped a chance to win a fourth consecutive game, but maintained a half-game lead in the AFC West as Oakland (4-3) lost to Kansas City, 28-0. San Diego will play the Chiefs (3-3) on Monday Night Football this week.

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