With the San Diego Chargers hanging on to life in terms of a post season run, they were in dire need of a win today against the red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers were riding a three-game win streak, and the Chargers were coming off a tough win against a struggling Houston Texans team.
The Chargers started the game strong with a quick 35-yard touchdown reception hauled in by Dontrelle Inman. Then on the Buccaneers first possession, a pass intended for Mike Evans was intercepted by Casey Hayward, his seventh of the year. The Chargers offense could not do much with the interception, and attempted a 53-yard field goal that Josh Lambo badly shanked wide left.
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On the Buccaneers ensuing drive, Doug Martin found the end zone with a short 2-yard touchdown run, tying the score at seven. The Chargers answered back on the following drive with a short 2-yard touchdown of their own, Melvin Gordon’s ninth rushing touchdown of the season, putting the Chargers up 14-7.
After the first half, things for the Chargers seemed to take a turn for the worst. On the Buccaneers first drive they settled for a 27-yard field goal, closing the Chargers lead to only 14-10. Shortly after, a pass intended for Tyrell Williams was intercepted by Lavonte David and returned for a 15-yard touchdown, giving the Buccaneers their first lead of the game at 17-14.
A huge momentum swing came in the closing minutes of the third quarter when Philip Rivers connected with Williams on a 40-yard touchdown reception, giving the Chargers the lead at 21-17. On the following drive, the Buccaneers strung together a good drive, but fell short and settled for a 35-yard field goal after an offensive pass interference call on Mike Evans, again shrinking the Chargers lead to 21-20.
After the Chargers went three-and-out on their ensuing possession, the Buccaneers put together a four-play drive ending in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jameis Winston to tight end Cameron Brate, and after converting the two-point conversion, the Buccaneers took the lead once again at 28-21.
On the Chargers ensuing possession, Rivers threw a deep pass to Inman, but was intercepted by Keith Tandy with only 3:04 left in the game. The Buccaneers were able to run down the clock, and handed the Chargers their seventh loss of the season.
Costly interceptions by Rivers were a huge deciding factor in this game. His first interception, which bounced off the chest of Williams, went for a defensive touchdown. His second interception ended what could have been a game-tying drive, and eliminated hopes of a Chargers victory.
The Chargers defense looked great in the first half, forcing a turnover, and constantly put pressure on Winston. However, the defense looked emaciated in the second half, with poor tackling and lazy coverage.
The Chargers will travel to Carolina next week to challenge the Panthers in what looks to be a meaningless game for both teams.
At 5-7, the playoffs are unlikely for the Chargers as there are currently 10 teams in the AFC with better records than them, and if the Indianapolis Colts defeat the New York Jets on Monday night, there will be 11. Even if they manage to win all of their final four games of the season, the postseason is all but out of sight in San Diego.