JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This was the Philip Rivers everyone expected all season.
Rivers threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns, burning Jacksonville’s depleted secondary early and often, and the San Diego Chargers beat the Jaguars 38-14 on Monday night to snap a six-game losing streak.
“It’s been a while,” Rivers said. “It was just good to win a game.”
The Chargers (5-7) could have used Rivers’ turnaround sooner. The three-time Pro Bowl selection leads the NFL in interceptions (17) and turnovers (21), and was a key part of San Diego’s disappointing season.
He was nearly perfect against Jacksonville (3-9), adding to the team’s tumultuous week.
Rivers completed 22 of 28 passes — hooking up with Vincent Brown, Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd for long scores — before sitting out the final few minutes. He finished with a 146.1 QB rating, by far his highest of the season.
The Chargers scored on five of their first six drives, then sent most of the home crowd scrambling for the exits with Ryan Mathews’ 31-yard TD run in the fourth.
It was a much-needed victory for a team that trails Denver and Oakland by two games in the AFC West with four to play.
“We’re going to fight like crazy to get ‘em,” Rivers said. “We’ve been here before and we believe we can do it. We’re going to do our part and see if it’s enough.”
And it was another blow to the Jaguars, who endured the most sweeping changes in the 17-year history of the franchise last week. Team owner Wayne Weaver fired coach Jack Del Rio and announced he was selling the club to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan.
Interim coach Mel Tucker fired receivers coach Johnny Cox, reassigned quarterbacks coach Mike Sheppard and waived starting receiver Jason Hill. The moves seemed to invigorate a franchise that had seemingly gone stale in Del Rio’s ninth season.
It made little difference on the field, mostly because Jacksonville’s defensive injuries proved too much to overcome.
The Jaguars played without their top three cornerbacks — Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox and Will Middleton — and lost safety Dwight Lowery (shoulder) and defensive end John Chick (knee) during the game.
Rivers took advantage, picking on a pair of cornerbacks who were signed off the street in recent weeks.
Rivers threw a 22-yard TD pass to Brown and a 35-yarder TD to Jackson on the final two drives of the first half as the Chargers overcame a brief deficit to seize control.
The opening drive of the third quarter didn’t take long. On the fifth play, Rivers found Floyd deep down the right sideline for a 52-yard score. Floyd, activated Monday night after missing six games with a hip injury, beat Ashton Youboty badly on the play. It was the second TD given up by Youboty, who was replaced on the next possession by Morgan Trent, signed five days ago.
The biggest cheer for the Jaguars came late in the third quarter, when Weaver was shown on the stadium’s large video board. He and his wife received a standing ovation.
The $760 million sale must be approved by the NFL later this month. Khan chose not to attend the game.
SD—Tolbert 13 run (Novak kick)
SD—FG Novak 29
Jac—Jones-Drew 9 pass from Gabbert (Scobee kick)
Jac—Shorts 5 pass from Gabbert (Scobee kick)
SD—V.Brown 22 pass from Rivers (Novak kick)
SD—Jackson 35 pass from Rivers (Novak kick)
SD—Floyd 52 pass from Rivers (Novak kick)
SD—Mathews 31 run (Novak kick)
|Total Net Yards||433||306|
|Time of Poss/||28:17||31:43|
RUSHING—San Diego, Mathews 13-112, Tolbert 6-24, Brinkley 3-5, Hester 1-1, Volek 3-(minus 3). Jacksonville, Jones-Drew 20-97, Gabbert 6-19, Owens 2-11, D.Harris 2-2, N.Harris 1-0.
PASSING—San Diego, Rivers 22-28-0-294. Jacksonville, Gabbert 19-33-1-195.
RECEIVING—San Diego, Gates 6-70, Floyd 4-108, Jackson 4-72, Mathews 3-2, McMichael 2-13, V.Brown 1-22, Crayton 1-5, Hester 1-2. Jacksonville, Jones-Drew 6-91, Lewis 3-27, Potter 3-24, Thomas 2-21, Dillard 2-14, Whimper 1-17, Shorts 1-5, Owens 1-(minus 4).
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.