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San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner looks on from the sideline against the Tennessee Titans at Qualcomm Stadium on October 31, 2010 in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the Titans 33-25.
As a motivator, it reads, Turner is all valleys and no peaks. He is dry. He is robotic. He is, in the most harshly worded text, incapable.
On Sunday, the Chargers shelved the book under its appropriate section: Fiction.
All the talk after the team's 33-25 win over the Titans was the halftime talk given by Turner, the specifics of which went largely unspoken and were equally unnecessary. Whatever was said worked, as the Chargers snapped a three-game losing streak despite being shorthanded offensively.
Tight end Antonio Gates, who called Turner's speech the “turning point of the game” with the team trailing 19-14, went the furthest in telling what was said.
“He came out and expressed how he feels about this team, expressed how he believes in this team,” Gates said. “We took that as a challenge. It meant something to him. ...I tell you, the fire that I able to see in his eyes and what it meant to him, it meant the world to me for a coach to have that faith and belief in his team.”
The Chargers (3-5) trailed at halftime in all their other losses, but they broke the trend by scoring on the first four possessions of the second half.
The second drive swung the game.
Titans safety Michael Griffin returned a Philip Rivers interception for a touchdown but was flagged for holding Gates, the intended receiver. In the next two plays, running back Mike Tolbert rushed for 36 yards, and Gates beat linebacker Will Witherspoon on a 48-yard touchdown pass.
Instead of trailing by nine, the Chargers took a five-point lead.
For the half's first drive, Gates was receiving treatment from the trainers inside the locker room for his ailing toe and foot injuries.
“They worked their magic back there,” said a smiling Gates, who led the team with five catches for 123 yards.
The drive without Gates, which ended in a field goal, was the latest of Rivers' worries. Top wide receivers Vincent Jacskon (Roster Exempt List), Malcom Floyd (hamstring), Legedu Naanee (hamstring) and Buster Davis (ribs) were all inactive.
Rivers adjusted, hitting a running back on 14 of his 27 completions to finish with 305 yards and two touchdowns. His 2,649 passing yards are the most through a season's first eight games in NFL history, breaking a record formerly owned by Chargers great Dan Fouts.
Rivers deserved a game ball. So did Turner, whose players presented him with one.
“It was his best (speech),” Rivers said. “He gets criticized a lot — I think unfairly — on the outside about how unemotional and passionate and fiery that he's not. ...He has plenty of passion and gives us plenty of motivation and all of that. But certainly, this halftime was ... as fiery as he's been.”