The Chargers got the ball with 6:07 left and ran each time before punting to the Titans with 2:05 remaining.
By the time they got the ball back again, they only had 15 seconds left and were trailing.
Not enough time before a wild finish with a bunch of laterals that went nowhere in a 20-17 loss to Tennessee on Sunday.
"I am not going to second guess play calling or anything like that at all," San Diego coach Mike McCoy said.
Philip Rivers was 13 of 15 for 114 yards passing in the first half, and the Chargers quarterback was 7 of 9 in the second half, finishing with 184 yards passing.
He only attempted four passes in the fourth quarter.
"I thought what we had up and the way we attacked them was right," Rivers said.
The Chargers (1-2) also had a holding penalty on backup offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger on second-and-6 that stalled the drive when they were trying to run out the clock.
Rivers also picked up a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct for protesting an offensive pass interference penalty that wiped out a touchdown in the second quarter.
"Too many mistakes at critical times during the game," McCoy said.
Instead, Jake Locker helped the Titans end a skid to the Chargers that spanned two states and two decades.
He capped the drive with a 34-yard touchdown pass to rookie Justin Hunter with 15 seconds left.
The Chargers had not lost to this franchise since 1992 when the team was in Houston and Titans coach Mike Munchak still was playing for the then-Oilers. The streak had been nine straight wins by San Diego.
Locker ended the slide by completing seven passes to six different receivers for 94 yards on the game-winning drive.
The eighth overall draft pick in 2011 finished with 299 yards passing and also ran for 68 yards and another touchdown.
"That's a huge game for him and this football team again," Munchak said of Locker.
San Diego led most of the game despite being banged up with three starters out because of injuries, a fourth very limited and a fifth lost to an injured foot in the first half.
The Titans outgained San Diego 452-277 yards with Nate Washington catching eight passes for 131 yards. Chris Johnson also ran 19 times for 90 yards.
San Diego came in with right tackle D.J. Fluker sidelined by a concussion, receiver Malcolm Floyd out with a neck injury, cornerback Shareece Wright out with a hamstring injury.
Linebacker Donald Butler was announced as inactive before San Diego made a late change scratching Tourek Williams instead. Butler was very limited by an injured groin. Left guard Chad Rinehart hurt his foot in the first half and didn't return.
"Yes, the answer was a mistake on our part," McCoy said of the confusion over the scratches.
Still, the Chargers looked ready to win their second straight road game when Ronnie Brown capped a 67-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run with 2:42 left in the third quarter for a 17-10 lead.
Rivers put San Diego up 7-0 with a 7-yard TD pass to Antonio Gates to cap the Chargers' opening drive.
But Tennessee blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt Nick Novak to end the first half, and the teams were tied at 10 at halftime.
The Chargers had plenty of chances to build a lead but couldn't take advantage. Officials wiped out a TD pass to Eddie Royal for offensive pass interference on Keenan Allen, starting for Floyd.
Then Rivers tried too hard to plead his case with an official who flagged the quarterback for unsportsmanlike conduct, giving the Chargers first-and-goal at the Titans 30. Rivers said he didn't say anything out of line but that was no excuse for drawing a penalty.
"They did take a touchdown off the board there," Rivers said. "I haven't seen the replay to know if it was the right call or not. Obviously, that's why I was so upset. That was a big play in the game when a touchdown gets called back."
San Diego settled for a 44-yard field goal by Nick Novak for a 10-3 lead late in the second quarter.
Notes: Rivers had been 6-0 against Tennessee ... The Titans have yet to turn the ball over this season ... The Titans are 4-1 when Locker has a passer rating of 90 or higher. He finished with a rating of 96.6 ... The Titans have won three of their past four home openers ... San Diego left tackle King Dunlap also got hurt in the fourth quarter, but McCoy said he hadn't heard about all the injuries yet.