Source: Associated Press
SAN DIEGO (AP)—The Green Bay Packers are still undefeated, thanks to both Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers.
Rodgers was at his best, throwing lasers, long balls and touchdown passes to four receivers as the Packers held on through a wild finish to beat the banged-up San Diego Chargers 45-38 on Sunday.
The defending Super Bowl champion Packers (8-0) remain the NFL’s only undefeated team. The Chargers (4-4) are staggering, having lost three straight games.
Rodgers completed 21 of 26 passes for 247 yards and ran his NFL-leading total to 24 TD throws. He had scoring passes of 5 yards to Jermichael Finley, 16 to Jordy Nelson, 21 to James Jones and 4 to Greg Jennings.
Rivers also threw four touchdown passes to tie his career high, three of them to Vincent Jackson, but had three interceptions. Two were returned for touchdowns in the span of six plays in the first quarter. The final pickoff, by Charlie Peprah, came in the closing seconds after the Chargers got one last chance at tying the game. Peprah returned it 76 yards to seal the victory.
The Packers led by 21 points early in the fourth quarter before Rivers threw touchdown passes of 5 and 29 yards to Jackson in the span of 1:07 midway through the quarter.
San Diego had a final chance to tie it, starting a drive at its 32 with 1:05 remaining and no timeouts left. Aided by a pass interference call against Charles Woodson, Rivers moved the Chargers to the Packers 41 before putting up a deep ball that Peprah easily picked off.
Rivers’ 14 interceptions lead the NFL. He was 26 of 46 for 385 yards.
His miserable stretch of turnovers continued with two pick-6s that gave the Packers a 21-7 lead.
Desmond Bishop tipped a pass intended for tight end Antonio Gates and Peprah intercepted. He broke four tackles during his 40-yard return and got a big block by Clay Matthews.
On the next Chargers possession, Tramon Williams jumped a route for an interception and 40-yard TD return.
Rivers and Mike Tolbert kept the Chargers in the game. Tolbert scored on an 8-yard run and, after the Chargers held the Packers on fourth-and-2 at the San Diego 36, Nick Novak kicked a career-best 52-yard field goal to pull to 21-17.
Amazingly, the Packers’ next drive was just their third of the first half. Although he was sacked twice, Rodgers moved the Packers to the San Diego 16 before throwing a TD pass to Nelson, who hauled it in at the 1 and then rolled into the end zone for a 28-17 halftime lead.
After Rivers hit Gates with an 11-yard TD pass in the third quarter, Rodgers, who lives in the San Diego area in the offseason, threw a perfect 21-yarder to Jones and then a 4-yarder to Jennings early in the fourth quarter to seemingly put away the game.
The Chargers played without injured running back Ryan Mathews, wide receiver Malcom Floyd and linebacker Shaun Phillips. San Diego guard Kris Dielman missed his second straight game with a concussion.