Inability to gain 1 yard has been costly to Chargers
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Just 1 yard.
The Chargers' inability to gain 1 yard has been quite costly already this season.
Three of the Chargers' five losses have come down to one yard, including Sunday when Melvin Gordon's fumble at the goal line in the waning seconds allowed to Tennessee to hold on for a 23-20 victory.
"I hope it doesn't define our season," coach Anthony Lynn said. "We were in the end zone and had a penalty (on Sunday) and then we were in the end zone and fumbled. That's the way it's been."
They have had six touchdowns nullified this season because of penalties or replay reversals, including two on the final drive against Tennessee.
They've also had five turnovers in red zone, all in goal-to-go situations. Three have occurred on the 1-yard line, including Melvin Gordon's fumble on the final drive.
"I didn't get the job done. The one thing I hate most yesterday is I let you all see me sweat and show emotion out there," he said. "We're in a position where every game counts."
With three straight losses to teams with a losing record, the Chargers find themselves treading water at 2-5 and with injuries piling up.
They have not gone 0-4 in October since 2000, when they went 1-15.
"It's been tough, we can see the difference. We just need to get that one win and then the rest can start coming," wide receiver Mike Williams said.
Austin Ekeler and Hunter Henry continue to be Philip Rivers' top options in the passing game. Ekeler had a career-high 118 yards on seven receptions, including a 41-yard touchdown on a go-route during the fourth quarter to bring the Chargers within a field goal. It was the running back's fifth game with six catches or more, but he was lined up as a receiver 20 of his 33 offensive plays on Sunday. During the first six games, he was averaging six snaps per game split out wide or as a slot receiver.
Henry was pivotal for the second straight game. The tight end had six receptions for 97 yards, including two catches on the final drive. He is averaging 14.1 yards per reception since missing four games because of a knee injury.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Opponents are completing 74.6 percent of their passes on the Chargers defense, which is on pace for the highest completion rate against a defense in NFL history. The current mark is 72.7 percent by the 2016 Detroit Lions.
Tennessee's Ryan Tannehill completed 23 of 29 passes for 312 yards and is the sixth quarterback since 2000 to complete 79 percent or more and post a 300-yard game against the Chargers.
The Chargers are also struggling to get off the field on third down. Opponents are 17 of 35 on third down over the past three games with quarterbacks completing 21 of 24. Tannehill was 7 of 9 for 111 yards and a touchdown on third down.
"We have to get a little more pressure on the quarterback and the coverage has to be tighter," Lynn said.
Joey Bosa has built a reputation as one of the league's top pass rushers, but he is also becoming a better all-around defensive lineman.
Bosa had two sacks on Sunday but has made regular contributions to the run game. He had the key stop on Tannehill's fourth-and-inches quarterback sneak during the fourth quarter which put the Chargers in position for a potential game-winning drive.
Gordon had his first touchdown of the season but is averaging only 2.25 yards per carry and had the fumble at the goal line when he tried to run low instead of leaping.
"I could be a lot better. I knew coming in the game speed it would take time," he said. "You do something bad, everything is blown up. I understood that coming in. I have to continue to work and put my best foot forward."
Guard Forrest Lamp will miss the rest of the season after breaking his right fibula during the second quarter. It is tough luck for the third-year lineman, whose career has been plagued by injuries since being drafted in the second round in 2017.
Lynn did say there was a chance that OT Russell Okung could be activated this week after missing seven games because of blood clots.
6 — Previous times the Chargers have started 2-5. They have never made the playoffs with that start and only posted a winning record twice.
The Chargers have two straight games against the NFC North starting Sunday at Chicago.