MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins ended a dismal week with something to celebrate.
Miami held San Diego without a touchdown over the final three quarters, and Brent Grimes broke up Philip Rivers’ final pass in the end zone as time expired, giving the embattled Dolphins a 20-16 win Sunday.
Ryan Tannehill threw for 268 yards, including a 39-yard score to Charles Clay, who broke two tackles on the play. Miami managed 104 yards rushing behind a makeshift line.
The victory came amid a harassment scandal that has raised questions about the team’s locker room culture. An NFL special investigator will question players this week about what might have happened between offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and guard Richie Incognito.
The Dolphins (5-5) won for only the second time in the past seven games, and bounced back from a defeat Monday night at previously winless Tampa Bay. The Chargers (4-6) lost their third game in a row to further hurt their chances of an AFC wild-card berth.
Trailing by four points, San Diego started from its own 17 with 1:54 left and drove to the Miami 25. On the final play, a harried Rivers lofted a pass toward Vincent Brown in the end zone, but the 5-foot-10 Grimes leaped to swat the ball to the turf.
Rivers threw for 298 yards and Ryan Mathews ran for 127, including a career-best 51-yard dash to set up a field goal. But the Chargers had 76 yards in penalties, including two infractions that cost them 11 points in the first half.
Miami played at home for the first time since the scandal broke. The stands were less than two-thirds full, and an airplane banner reflected the mood by calling for the firing of general manager Jeff Ireland, who has long been in disfavor with fans.
Because center Mike Pouncey missed the game with an illness, the Dolphins had three backups starting in the offensive line. Martin is sidelined while his harassment allegations are investigated, and Incognito was suspended.
The Dolphins gave up four sacks, increasing their season total to 41, but averaged 5.5 yards per rush to limit the Chargers’ time of possession.
On the game’s opening drive, the Dolphins drove 76 yards — with all but 2 coming through the air — for a field goal.
Penalties repeatedly hurt the Chargers. Corey Liuget was flagged for roughing the passer to negate a teammate’s fumble recovery at the Chargers 1, and two plays later the Dolphins scored a touchdown for a 10-7 lead.
A scrambling Rivers hit Antonio Gates for a 5-yard touchdown with a minute left in the first half, but the quarterback was flagged for throwing past the line of scrimmage, and the Chargers settled for a field goal that made it 10-all at halftime.
A drive in the second half stalled after receiver Keenan Allen was flagged 15 yards for taunting, and the Chargers defense was penalized four times for offsides.
San Diego’s Derek Cox dropped a potential pick-six in the first quarter, and on the next play Johnny Patrick intercepted Tannehill at midfield. The Chargers scored four plays later for a 7-3 lead.
Clay put Miami ahead to stay in the third quarter when he caught a short pass and ran over defenders Marcus Gilchrist and Donald Butler en route to the end zone, making it 17-10.
The Chargers have lost once in overtime and three times by four points or less.