Chargers Starters Roll, Backups Flounder vs. Rams

On the field, for one day, Chargers narrowly win Fight For L.A.

If the Chargers are smart (I know, I know, that’s a very big IF) they will wrap Philip Rivers in bubble wrap and seal him in a hyperbaric chamber until the start of the regular season.

Rivers only played two series against the Rams in the “Fight For L.A.” at the Los Angeles Coliseum but it was enough for head coach Anthony Lynn to sit him down for what will likely be the rest of the exhibition season. Rivers led a pair of touchdown drives in a 21-19 Chargers win that should not have been that close.

The Chargers took the opening kickoff and scored when Rivers threw a laser to Travis Benjamin right down the middle for a 45-yard TD. Watching the veteran lead an offense was in stark contrast to the guy the Rams ran out under center.

Jared Goff, the second-year player who is having trouble living up to his first overall NFL Draft pick status, was sacked and stripped of the ball by reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa. Fellow defensive standout Melvin Ingram picked up the loose ball and ran 76 yards for another score and a 14-0 Chargers lead.

On their next possession Goff grotesquely overthrew a wide open receiver and steered it right to the arms of defensive back Jason Verrett, who made the interception in his first game action since suffering a torn ACL a year ago.

Rivers went right back on the attack, throwing a dart to Keenan Allen for a 17-yard gain inside the Rams’ 10-yard-line. Melvin Gordon finished the drive with a 2-yard TD run and a 21-0 lead. After that Rivers was pulled for QB Cardale Jones and since most NFL teams hold their starters out of the final exhibition game it looks like Rivers will not play again until the regular season opener against the Broncos in Denver on Monday Night Football.

Adding up all his preseason numbers, Rivers finished 11-12 passing for 141 yards, two touchdowns and was not sacked. When he is in the game the Chargers offense just looks like a different animal. Through three preseason games the Chargers have scored a touchdown in all three series with Philip in the shotgun, but only mustered 10 points on 30 drives (throwing out two at the end of halves or games) with Jones, Kellen Clemens and Mike Bercovici at QB.

It’s not just at quarterback where the Chargers have serious depth deficiencies. Once the starters left the game the Bolts looked like a completely different team and as we got used to seeing so often the last two years under former head coach Mike McCoy the Bolts did all they could to give a big lead away.

The Bolts did not score the rest of the half while the Rams were able to kick a trio of field goals. The Rams got their first touchdown of the night in the 3rd quarter when backup QB Sean Mannion lofted a pretty pass to Josh Reynolds for a 38-yard score that cut the lead to 21-16.

On the next possession running back Andre Williams fumbled in Rams territory, a turnover that led to another field goal and the once-three touchdown lead was cut to 21-19. The Chargers went 3-and-out and punted again, then got a gift when Rams kicker Travis Coons missed a 33-yard field goal that would have given them the lead and that was the last real legitimate scoring threat of the night.

The Chargers play their final exhibition game on Thursday night in San Francisco against the 49ers.

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