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Turnovers Prove Costly for Chargers

Posted Dec 1, 2013

Three turnovers by the Chargers proved to be a game changer in their loss to the Bengals.

The San Diego Chargers entered the game having turned the ball over just three times in their last three games.

On Sunday, they committed three turnovers in 60 minutes of play.  Those mistakes proved costly as the Bolts fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 17-10 at Qualcomm Stadium.

“Against a good football team like the Bengals, we made too many mistakes,” said Head Coach Mike McCoy.  “We had three turnovers offensively.  It’s been a long time since we turned the ball over that way.  It’s unacceptable.”

Two of those turnovers can be attributed to an unlikely source – Antonio Gates, who has lost two fumbles now this season after not committing one since September 2008.  The lost fumble came on the opening possession of the game with the Chargers moving deep in Bengals territory.  As he caught a ball for 13 yards on 3rd-and-10 at the 18-yard line, Reggie Nelson jarred it loose as the tight end went to the ground.

In the third quarter with the game tied 7-7, the Bolts were driving once again looking primed to put up at least three.  Rivers hit gates right at the sticks, but as he went to the ground, Dre Kirkpatrick wrestled it away from the future Hall of Famer for what technically went down as an interception.  After the game, Gates spoke about the unusual nature of those two plays and  the crucial role they played in deciding the outcome.

“It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to come away with the win,” he said.  “One thing about me is that I made some plays today that are uncharacteristic of who I am and what I stand for.  You have to take your hat off to that defense.  They did a wonderful job in getting the ball out.  To me, I have to play better to give us a better chance to win.”

Philip Rivers also spoke to the rarity of Gates committing those two mistakes when talking about the offense’s struggles in turning the ball over.

“We’re talking about a guy that never turns it over on one of them,” said Rivers. “It was kind of a fluky deal on the other one.  The ball kind of gets ripped out on one, and then a young player fighting like crazy.  Keenan hadn’t had a turnover.  Those happen, and obviously we do all we can to make them not happen.  We hadn’t had many this year.  I think that’s what has kept us in a lot of games, but obviously, they hurt us tonight.”

The Allen fumble occurred in the fourth quarter when he reached for a first down.  George Iloka punched the ball loose before the wideout’s knee hit the ground.

“I was just trying to get my head down and I thought I had the ball tucked in pretty good,” he said.  “I guess he got his helmet on it and stripped it away.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Chargers’ defense forced two turnovers.  Unfortunately, all the offense had to show for it was three points on a Nick Novak field goal.

“I thought the possession after (Eric) Weddle’s interception was a bad possession,” said Rivers.  “There were a couple of those possessions where we just didn’t capitalize on anything.  Getting one of the defensive guys the ball back and then the turnovers obviously hurt us.  But, you score ten points, you’re going to lose most of the team.”

Still, in the end, it was the costly turnovers that the team lamented more than anything else.

“Anytime you lose the turnover margin you lose the game,” said Nick Hardwick.  “And that’s what happened today.”

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