Rivers-to-Gates, plus some luck, helps Bolts end skid
SAN DIEGO (AP) The San Diego Chargers finally found a way to win, and not surprisingly, the Philip Rivers-to-Antonio Gates connection was a big reason.
Gates will be honest - so was some luck.
The Chargers beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-25 Sunday to snap a six-game losing streak.
Gates caught two of Rivers' four touchdown passes, both late in the second quarter. The second one was set up by Manti Te'o's interception.
What changed from the previous six games?
''Probably some luck,'' Gates said Monday. ''We got some turnovers. Manti's interception was very nice. It gave us the opportunity to score points, which is a major focus, getting points on turnovers.''
Te'o said the Chargers (3-8) picked up some tendencies by Blake Bortles.
''I was kind of anticipating a little something and our coaches put me in position where I could sit back and read the QB and I got a good break and was able to make a play.''
The Chargers allowed some big plays but limited the Jaguars to four field goals through the first three quarters.
''We gave up some big plays,'' Te'o said. ''The good thing about that, looking at the positive side, is we kind of tightened up everything. I think the majority of those big plays didn't lead to any touchdowns. We held them in the red zone. In a perfect world we don't want any of those explosive plays, but I'm happy the way our defense rallied and how we came up with stops when we needed it.''
Normally conservative coach Mike McCoy surprised everyone when he went for it on fourth-and-7 from the Jacksonville 38-yard line in the fourth quarter with the Chargers leading 24-19. Philip Rivers then surprised everyone by scrambling eight yards for the first down, diving for the marker. After he got to his feet, Rivers waved his right index finger and did a little dance.
''Our speedster got the first down, so it was a great job by him,'' McCoy said.
Did the big win perhaps help save McCoy's job?
''I'm taking this job one day at a time like I do every day and keep plugging away every day and put great plans in week in and week out,'' said the beleaguered McCoy, who's only 21-22 in three seasons.
Safety Eric Weddle said he doesn't think McCoy has been fighting for his job.
''We think he'll be here,'' Weddle said. ''We're just trying to do the best we can to salvage the season. And it helped winning last week. Guys came in here more upbeat, more confident.''
Weddle said the Chargers are ''moving in the right direction. We all know if we lose and have a bad season, it's not just the coaches - players are gone, too. The older guys know that, and I think the younger guys are starting to understand that you're not here every year. You have to play good, and you have to win.''
Now the Chargers prepare to host Brock Osweiler and the AFC West-leading Denver Broncos (9-2), who rallied to beat New England in overtime Sunday night.
''When you talk about a division opponent, it's always important that you be focused in, especially at home,'' Gates said. ''We finally got a victory. We just want to build on it. What better team to come in to get our second win in a row, a Denver Broncos team that's playing at a high level. If they're not playing the best football in the league, they're one of the top three teams in my opinion right now. We definitely have to be efficient offensively because that defense is flying around and making a lot of plays.''
The Broncos swept the Chargers last year.
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