Chargers 41, Buccaneers 24: Teams Going In Opposite Directions

The San Diego Chargers are still in the AFC West race, amazingly, thanks to their 41-24 win in Tampa Bay. Coming into this game, I felt Philip Rivers would have a tough time throwing on the No. 3 pass defense in the NFL, which would give the Buccaneers a nice advantage. Shows what I know, as he torched the Buccaneers to the tune of 21-of-31 passing for 287 yards and four touchdowns.

So, depending on what Denver does against Buffalo today, the Chargers could be playing for the division title next week, despite starting the season 4-8. Only in the AFC West.

Tampa Bay actually went into the fourth quarter leading the game 24-20, only to pretty much collapse and allow San Diego to close the game with three unanswered touchdowns, including a pair of Rivers touchdown passes -- a five-yard toss to Antonio Gates, and a 32-yard score to running back Darren Sproles. Antoine Cason sealed the win with a 59-yard interception return late in the fourth quarter.

While the Chargers are playing their best football of the season, winning three in a row, Tampa Bay seems to be going in the opposite direction, losing its third straight. In each game the Buccaneers defense has let them down, only this week it was the passing defense instead of the running defense, which had been the case the previous two weeks.

Tampa Bay, at 9-6, is still in the playoff race, though the loss gives new life to the Dallas Cowboys in the fight for the NFC wild card spots.

Jeff Garcia made the start for the Buccaneers after sitting out last Sunday's games in Atlanta finished 21-of-35 232 yards and a pair of interceptions. He also connected with Antonio Bryant on a 71-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.

But, hey, if you're a Buccaneers fan and you're looking for a positive in the middle of this late season slump, you get the Oakland Raiders, at home, on Sunday. So, you've got that going for you. Though, at this point, even that may not be enough.

Chargers 41, Buccaneers 24: Teams Going In Opposite Directions originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Sun, 21 Dec 2008 16:50:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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