Chargers handle winless, lifeless Jaguars 24-6
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. • The San Diego Chargers handled winless Jacksonville just like every other obstacle this week: with relative ease.
Dealing with a short week, a cross-country flight and an early start on the East Coast, the Chargers responded with one of their most complete performances of the season.
Philip Rivers threw for 285 yards and a touchdown, Ryan Mathews ran for 110 yards and a score, and the surging Chargers beat the inept Jaguars 24-6 Sunday.
San Diego's defense gave up a pair of field goals and recorded six sacks. It was the perfect way to head into a bye week.
"We're starting to build somewhat of an identity, a little bit of an attitude," Rivers said.
Coming off a 10-point victory over Indianapolis on Monday night, the Chargers (4-3) won consecutive games for the first time this season.
The Jaguars (0-7) have done a fantastic job of making opponents look good. Jacksonville has lost every game this season by double digits, becoming the first team since the 1984 Houston Oilers to garner that dubious distinction. The Oilers lost their first 10 games that year by at least 10 points.
"Nobody's going to feel sorry for us," Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts III said. "We can't feel sorry for us."
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley shouldered the blame for not having his team ready, a feeling he got in pregame warm-ups and in the locker room. Jacksonville was praised for covering a 27-point spread at Denver last week and spent part of this past week preparing for a week-long stay in London.
Unlike the Chargers, the Jaguars failed to manage all the potential distractions.
"We acted like a young team," Bradley said. "I just think that we didn't respond the right way to the challenge. The three most dangerous words in the NFL are 'I've got it,' and I think that we felt like 'We're making strides. We've got this. We've just got to go out there and do this,' and that's not how it works.
"If we had that mentality, then we got punched right in the mouth."
The Chargers scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the day and put the game away with two more scoring drives to start the second half. Rivers made big plays on every one of them. He completed his first 14 passes, including a 27-yarder to Eddie Royal, and finished 22 of 26.
"Philip is the wheels on our tank," tight end Antonio Gates said. "As long as he can continue to play the way he plays and the line continues to protect him like that, we're going to be just fine."
Aside from the lopsided result, here are five things to know from Sunday's game:
O-LINE SHUFFLE: What made the win even more impressive was the Chargers overcame the loss of two offensive linemen early in the game. Left tackle King Dunlap left in the first quarter with a concussion. Mike Remmers replaced him, but went down four plays later with an injury. The Chargers flopped right tackle D.J. Fluker to the left side, moved right guard Jeromey Clary to right tackle, inserted Rich Ohrnberger in at right guard and didn't miss a beat.
FAB FOUR FAIL: The Jaguars talked all week about playing their first game with their top four playmakers. But having running back Maurice Jones-Drew, tight end Marcedes Lewis and receivers Justin Blackmon and Shorts on the field together made little difference. Shorts dropped two key passes, including one in the end zone. "I was very, very upset with myself," Shorts said. "I was in here crying, but that's part of the game. I'm going to bounce back and play well next week."
SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS: The Jaguars had plenty of other costly mistakes. Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct following a 1-yard run on a second-and-34 play, giving San Diego an automatic first down. The Jaguars were sacked several times in the red zone. And coach Gus Bradley strangely opted to kick a field goal while trailing 17-3 in the third. Jacksonville lined up to go for it on fourth-and-5 from the 5, but Bradley called timeout and changed his mind.
MATHEWS ON THE MOVE: Mathews topped the century mark for the second consecutive week and scored his first touchdown of the season. Mathews missed time earlier this year because of a hamstring injury and then a concussion.
EXCLUSIVE CLUB: Rivers became the second in franchise history with 30,000 yards passing. "It is kind of a 'wow' to myself when it hits you," said Rivers, who joined Dan Fouts. "It's humbling to hear that. ... It's something you can certainly look back on and appreciate down the road. When you have a bye week, I can enjoy it a little more."
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org
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