The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have thrived all season in forcing turnovers, entering Week 13 with the third most takeaways in the NFL. Meanwhile, giveaways have been the Achilles' heel to an otherwise dominant San Diego Chargers offense as they have the most turnovers in the league.
Unfortunately, both trends continued on Sunday as a pair of second half picks were the turning point in the Bolts 28-21 loss to the Bucs.
Interceptions are always game changers, and as Philip Rivers often says, each has its own unique story. Although both picks were entirely different types, they were the two most critical plays on the afternoon.
"You give them seven points, and then you turn it over again down in there with the chance to tie it; you're not going to win."
The first came on 1st-and-10 from the San Diego eight-yard line with 4:32 left in the third quarter. San Diego led 14-10 as Rivers fired quickly in the direction of Tyrell Williams on a slant. Vernon Hargreaves converged on the wideout just as the ball arrived and it bounced up in the air into the waiting arms of LaVonte David. The outside linebacker ran it back 15 yards untouched to give Tampa Bay its first lead of the day.
Rivers' second interception came late in the fourth quarter, and all but sealed the win for the visitors. Down by seven with 3:04 left, the Chargers were marching looking to tie the game and send it into overtime. Facing 2nd-and-1 from the Buccaneers' 31-yard line, the Bolts took a shot for the end zone as Rivers looked for Dontrelle Inman at the goal line. Unfortunately, Keith Tandy came away with the jump ball as the pair wrestled into the end zone. Tampa Bay took over, and after a first down, was able to take a knee and come away with the victory.
After the game, Rivers reacted to the interceptions.
"If I (get a little more air under it) it's probably incomplete," he said about the second pick. "I don't know if I had him even if I make a good throw there. The first one, that's the way it goes sometimes."
Rivers then explained how the details of each individual pick doesn't matter. What does is that both came at costly times when that absolutely can't occur.
"Every interception has a story. To me, going on and on about what happened and what I saw; it doesn't matter, really. It doesn't change any of them. You can't turn it over. You can't turn it over twice. You can't turn it over once for a touchdown, and the other one, in that situation. I could go on and on about what I saw and what I was thinking when I threw it, but it doesn't really matter."