Officially, the San Diego Chargers have so far avoided one of their patented slow starts under coach Norv Turner.
Yes, they are 2-1. Still, the Bolts know they have a lot to improve on, especially after letting the winless Kansas City Chiefs hang around into the 60th minute on Sunday. The Chargers, who were 15-point favorites, held on to win 20-17 after Eric Weddle intercepted Matt Cassel at midfield with 55 seconds left.
Philip Rivers had two more interceptions, giving him six in three games. The Chargers seemed lethargic trying to hold off a Chiefs team that had been routed by a combined 89-10 in its first two games.
The Chargers love their Monday "talking points," and the most prominent following the narrow escape were that they are 2-1 and that the best thing is, they won the game.
"We're just trying to win one game," Rivers said. "We know we're going to have to play better as the season goes and that's what we're going to work toward. But we could have played our best game yesterday and we're still going to be 2-1 today."
The Chargers have yet to play a game with the kind of fireworks and style points their fans expect from such a loaded roster. They had to rally from 10 down at halftime to beat Minnesota 24-17 on opening day, had four turnovers in a 35-21 loss at New England, then avoided what would have been a huge upset loss to the Chiefs, or at the very least, being forced into overtime.
Turnovers have been the constant for a team that's been preaching since last season's ugliness that it has to cut down on the blunders.
Rivers has six interceptions, compared with four touchdowns, and the Chargers have lost two of their five fumbles.
"I wasn't as sharp yesterday, but we made some plays," Rivers said. "We were good on third down and there were some plays we didn't make. There's a couple that were intentional throwaways. The first interception was an awful throw. The second one, hey, I didn't throw it where I wanted to, but the guy (Brandon Flowers) made a really good play. That one won't come down in their hands very often. A couple got away from me. It definitely wasn't my best day, but the best thing about yesterday was we won the game."
Rivers also had a fumble, which center Nick Hardwick jumped on.
"You've got to look at them as, although they're not lost, you've got to treat them the same way," Rivers said. "I lost one in the pocket yesterday that we were lucky to get. We've got to make sure the ball's in our hands at the end of the play whether it be a pass or a run or a catch or whatever it is. We need to make sure we end the play with the ball. That's something we obviously haven't been great at the first three weeks. But all things considered, we're sitting here at 2-1. Yeah, we wish we were 3-0, but being 2-1 with a chance to get the third win this week, I think that's where everybody's focus is."
The Chargers have a minus-6 turnover differential, tied for second-to-last in the NFL.
Rivers is on pace to throw 32 interceptions. His career high is 15 in 2007.
Among his pickoffs this year have been one by Vince Wilfork, New England's 325-pound defensive tackle, and an acrobatic grab at the goal line by Flowers on a deep ball Sunday.
"They all count," Rivers said. "There certainly have been some that have been probably not the greatest of decisions, and then just poor throws. And then there's been a couple that have just have happened that you probably couldn't change. But they all count the same. No I'm not concerned. Yeah, I do want to make sure I take care of the ball. I don't want to keep going at this rate for the next 13. That would be ugly.
"We'll get on a roll here and not throw many. The biggest thing is we're 2-1."
Said Turner: "We know we need to get better. That's a focus for us. I think we played better than we did a week ago. There's things obviously we've got to continue to work on and get better at."
One guy who had a good game was second-year running back Ryan Mathews, who bailed out the Bolts with 98 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, plus 51 yards on four catches.
"He's becoming the complete back we expect him to be. He's really doing a great job in the passing game," Turner said.
Up next is a home game against another winless team, the Miami Dolphins (0-3).
"The Dolphins are a talented group," Turner said. "I know they haven't won a game yet. Maybe that makes them more dangerous, but we've got to get ready. They're a very physical football team."