Source: Associated Press
SAN DIEGO (AP)—Losing to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots is one thing. Doing it the way the San Diego Chargers did is another.
The Chargers committed four turnovers in losing 35-21 at Foxborough on Sunday, including two interceptions and a fumble by quarterback Philip Rivers, and a critical fumble by running back Mike Tolbert.
“We didn’t play well enough to go into New England and win that football game,” coach Norv Turner said Monday. “That’s an outstanding football team. The thing that jumps out at people are the glaring mistakes; obviously, the turnovers, which we have to fix. Yesterday we were four turnovers away from having a chance.”
“They handled us enough to cause us to turn it over four times, which wasn’t enough.”
Rivers tried to force a pass to tight end Antonio Gates and was intercepted by Sergio Brown.
His other pickoff was on an unbelievable play by 325-pound defensive tackle Vince Wilfork on a pass intended for Tolbert. Wilfork batted the ball to himself, then returned it 28 yards.
“He didn’t really drop back; he just took off running, kind of saw Mike release,” Rivers said. “It was a great play on his part. I don’t know if it was by plan or just him being a veteran player and realizing we had a max protection on. He wasn’t going to get there by rushing. It was just a heck of a play.”
Rivers said he never saw Wilfork.
“If we went and did it right now, I’d throw it to him again. I mean, I wouldn’t intentionally, but I’d throw it again. That sounds kind of crazy. It’s a little rough to be reading the corner and the nose tackle at the same time,” Rivers cracked.
That set up a field goal for a 20-17 halftime lead.
Rivers also threw two interceptions in a 24-17 home victory against Minnesota.
Asked what he can do about limiting turnovers, Rivers said: “Don’t throw it to them. That’s it. It’s that simple. Don’t throw the ball. For the most part, I don’t throw it to the other team very often. Here in the first two, they’ve gotten four of them. Two of them, I can’t say were unlucky, but a little unfortunate. The other two, they’re poor throws. Both of them are down inside the 30 going in.”
The Chargers (1-1) have six turnovers and only one takeaway. They’ve trailed by double digits in the first half of each of their two games.
“It’s a big concern,” Turner said. “It’s directly connected to one thing. We have got to do a better job of taking care of the ball. We have to find a way to create turnovers.”
Turner said the Chargers are making other errors, with the turnovers being the most glaring.
“You have forced errors, where a guy makes a great play, and you have an unforced errors, where you’re trying to do something more than what’s asked,” the coach said. “Tolbert’s fumble was an unforced error. He had a five-yard gain and was trying to break outside and make a big run. We didn’t need a big run. I think it was second-and-four.
“Offensively, we’re trying to force big plays when they’re not there. If we take what the play gives us, we have a lot of guys who can make big plays and will make big plays if they execute the play when it’s there,” Turner said.
With the Chargers trailing 20-14 with just more than 10 minutes to play, Tolbert fumbled inside the Patriots’ 40-yard line. In the second quarter, Tolbert was stuffed on fourth-and-1 from the New England 1.
The Patriots played so effectively against Gates that he didn’t have a catch and was targeted only once.
But that opened it up for Vincent Jackson, who had 10 catches for 172 yards — both career highs—and two touchdowns.
The Chargers are home Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs (0-2), who’ve been routed in their first two games. Last year, the Chiefs split with the Chargers and ended their streak of winning four straight AFC West titles. The Chargers went 3-3 in the division, 9-7 overall and missed the playoffs.
“We know what these kind of games mean,” Rivers said. “Like I said, 3-3 last year is not going to get it done. We’ve got to get off to a great start in the division, and we get a chance to do that this week.”