MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 17: Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers runs with the ball during their game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on November 17, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
With fewer than two minutes to play, Philip Rivers and Company couldn't do enough to beat the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium in Florida Sunday.
Rivers did his best to engineer a game-winning drive, but time expired before the Chargers could score the needed touchdown…and any chance at the playoffs may have expired with it.
The game, exceedingly important because of the wild card implications behind it, brings San Diego to 4-6 on the season. Although not mathematically out of it, the Chargers made it tougher on themselves with the loss.
Sunday was characterized by (mostly) poor defense by the Chargers-- missed tackles, blown coverage and costly penalties-- but a solid rushing game from San Diego, with 154 yards on the ground. Running back Ryan Mathews finished the game with 19 touches for 127 yards, including a career-high 51-yard rush.
The Dolphins scored a field goal on their opening series, a 76-yard drive full of missed tackles and coverage by the Chargers' defense.
Rivers was intercepted on the Chargers opening drive, just as San Diego was nearing the red zone. A few plays later, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was intercepted by cornerback Johnny Patrick, and the Chargers were able to score a touchdown on their second possession of the game.
A roughing the passer call on Corey Liuget negated a goal line forced fumble in the second quarter, which would have stopped the Dolphins from scoring a touchdown moments later. Liuget hit Tannehill a good few seconds after Tannehill released the ball.
Going into halftime, the Chargers would even the score with a field goal, after a touchdown was negated due to Rivers' crossing the line of scrimmage before throwing the ball to Antonio Gates.
Miami scored again, in the third quarter, on a 39-yard pass from Tannehill to tight end Charles Clay. The Chargers responded on the next drive with a 50-yard-field goal by kicker Nick Novak.
With eight minutes left to play, Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis hit a 37-yard field goal, to bring the score to 20-16, Miami. Miami would maintain the lead.