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Leaky Chargers Let One Slip

Like its stadium, team has holes to patch



    Leaky Chargers Let One Slip
    Getty Images
    Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers fumbles the ball at the line of scrimmage and then pitches to running back Mike Tolbert #35 against the Green Bay Packers on November 6, 2011 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif.

    Coach Norv Turner stood at a media podium Sunday afternoon, fielding questions about his charitable Chargers' latest football game giveaway.


    Questions about how they hung around with the defending Super Bowl champions.


    Questions about how they nearly pulled off an improbable comeback but didn't.


    Every 30 seconds or so, the Chargers' biggest problem dripped from the ceiling inches from Turner, splashing the wooden podium and the tape recorders resting atop it.

    Costume Shopping with Darrell Stuckey

    [DGO] Costume Shopping with Darrell Stuckey
    Halloween is Darrell Stuckey's favorite holiday. The Chargers special teams player goes shopping with San Diego Union-Tribune's Annie Heilbrunn.
    (Published Monday, Oct. 24, 2011)

    It is no secret. If the Chargers can fix their leaks, of which there were many to patch at Qualcomm Stadium — on and off the field — they proved that even against the NFL's best, superiority is within reach.

    But wow, are there some leaks to fix first? Quarterback Philip Rivers spotted the Green Bay Packers two first-quarter touchdowns off interceptions, and a furious comeback attempt slipped through the cracks with a rare third pick-off, closing a rainy 45-38 loss in front of the third-largest crowd in Chargers history.

    Rivers dealt three interceptions for the first time since Oct. 28, 2000, back when he was an 18-year-old freshman at NC State in a 58-14 loss to Florida State.

    This game was much closer.

    With 10:27 left in the fourth quarter, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Super Bowl MVP and three-time defending NFC Offensive Player of the Month, threw his fourth touchdown pass to Greg Jennings, a perfect four-yard bullet over the shoulder of cornerback Quentin Jammer past the front pylon.

    The champs' lead was at 45-24 as raucous Packers fans chanted "Go, Pack! Go!"

    Then the Chargers went.

    At 7:32, a Rivers touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson. All 68,908 might as well have yawned. The silence chanted, "Too little too late."

    Darrell Stuckey onside kick recovery.  At 6:25, a Rivers touchdown pass to Jackson. Crowd goes wild.

    "We feel when we're at full strength and we play the way we're capable, we're the best team in the NFL," safety Eric Weddle said. "I know people don't believe that, but look at us. When our offense is playing, our defense is playing and special teams, we can play with anybody.

    "We came back like that," Weddle added, snapping his fingers. "We've got to put it all together. If we don't, we're going to keep getting in the situation where it's a toss-up in the fourth quarter or where we don't have a chance."

    The Rivers-to-Jackson connection was good seven of 12 tries for 141 yards and three touchdowns, the latter tying Jackson's career high. Rivers was 26-for-46 for 385 yards and four scores, but the three interceptions were what haunted.

    And Rodgers was every ounce as advertised. He dazzled against the strongest of downfield coverage, needling the ball where only one of his bevy of options could pluck the ball from the scattered-rain sky.

    He beat the Chargers in the air — 21-for-26 for 247 yards and four touchdowns — and with his legs, bailing out of the pocket eight times for 52 yards, one third-down conversion after another.

    A bright side to the rainy day: the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, with whom the Chargers shared a first-place tie in the AFC West entering the game, lost, too.

    The tie will break at this same leaky site Thursday when the Chargers face the Raiders in the Bolts' third game in 11 days.

    "We have eight games left and we're tied for the division lead," Weddle said. "I think people forget about that. You get caught up in the hoopla. Our only goal is to win the division and see what happens in the playoffs, and we're 4-4. Whether we're 8-0 or 2-6, we're tied for the division. What's out there ahead of us is still attainable."

    Look ahead and watch it drip from the ceiling.


    Seriously. Patch it up.