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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 23: Tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates with teammates Nick Hardwick #61 and wide receiver Danario Alexander #84 after making a touchdown catch during the third quarter and breaking the team's all-time receptions record in a game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on December 23, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Chargers defeated the Jets 27-17. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Chargers beat the Jets at MetLife Stadium 27-17 on Sunday.
Both teams played a sluggish and sloppy first half. The Jets received the kickoff but quickly went three-and-out and were forced to punt.
Wide receiver Michael Spurlock took the punt at San Diego’s 37 and took it back 63 yards for the touchdown. That’s the Bolts’ first punt return for a TD this season.
The Jets, led by quarterback Greg McElroy, answered with 14 points of their own. And during those two scoring possessions, he didn’t look like a 7th round draft pick.
He marched his offense down the field from his own 17- and 42- yard lines all the way into the endzone.
Both scores were off 1-yard runs by running back Shonn Greene.
During the first drive, McElroy had zero completions. But, head coach Rex Ryan reached deep into his playbook for some trick plays. One was a wide receiver pass from Jeremy Kerely to Clyde Gates for 42 yards. The next play, New York pulled out some more trickery. A direct snap to Greene resulted in 3 yards for the back before linebacker Jarrett Johnson pulled dragged him down.
To start the second quarter, the Chargers got within field goal range and kicker Nick Novak put it through the uprights not once, but twice. His initial 46-yard field goal was nullified thanks to a 12-men on the field penalty against San Diego. That put it back to a 51-yard field goal but Novak again, made it through.
Novak is 15-for-17 on the year, and he is 100% accurate when kicking from less than 50 yards out.
New York was leading 14-10 going into the half.
But San Diego broke the second half wide open and left McElroy and the Jets in the dust.
It started with a deep pass to wide receiver Danario Alexander from quarterback Philip Rivers. Alexander led the team with three receptions for 69 yards and a TD on the day. Rivers was wearing gloves for only the second time all season, the first was during the win in Pittsburgh when the Chargers “shocked the world,” according to safety Eric Weddle.
It was the first time San Diego had ever won in the Steel City during the regular season.
The next pass was another Rivers’ pass. This time he connected with tight end Antonio Gates from 34 yards out. Rivers and Gates are the most successful QB-tight end combo in the NFL. With that completion, Gates passed Lance Alworth for the most touchdown catches in Chargers’ history.
With about a minute and a half left in the quarter, McElroy went deep right, looking for Gates but it was Chargers’ safety Corey Lynch he found instead.
Lynch carried it 19 yards before being brought down at the New York 30-yard line.
That was Lynch’s second interception of the season.
Linebacker Shaun Phillips also had a big day, adding 2.5 sacks to his seven on the season. He leads the team in sacks and after today, has the second most sacks in Chargers’ history.
Each team tacked on another field goal to their score to make the final, 27-17 San Diego.
The Chargers finish off their season next week at home against the Oakland Raiders.