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Jake Locker shines for Titans as Chargers blow another late lead

Jake Locker made all sorts of plays against the Chargers. (Mark Zaleski/AP) Jake Locker made all sorts of plays against the Chargers. (Mark Zaleski/AP)

Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker has been frustratingly inconsistent throughout his NFL career, displaying a head-scratching mistake for every splash play he makes. But in the Titans' 20-17 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Locker looked like the player the Titans thought he could be when they selected him with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 draft. Locker completed 23-of-37 passes for 299 yards and a touchdown. Not only did Locker complete passes to seven receivers, but also he rushed 68 yards and a touchdown on five carries, including this 39-yard scramble in the first quarter below.

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The Chargers, who took a 17-10 lead into the fourth quarter, saw yet another advantage slip away when Locker threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hunter with 15 seconds left in the game. San Diego blew a 21-point second-half lead in their season-opening 31-28 loss to the Houston Texans, and scrapped second-half leads of 20-10, 23-20, and 30-27 before coming back and beating the Philadelphia Eagles, 33-30, in Week 2.

From a situational standpoint, the Chargers have nobody to blame but themselves, and the worst sequence started with 7:43 left in the first half. A mishandled snap by Titans punter Brett Kern gave the Chargers the ball on the Titans' 30-yard line. After an eight-yard run by Ryan Mathews, Rivers threw an incomplete pass to tight end Ladarius Green, but Tennessee safety Bernard Pollard was flagged for pass interference. That gave San Diego first-and-goal at the five-yard line, but rookie receiver Keenen Allen was flagged for an illegal pick on a touchdown pass to Eddie Royal, and then quarterback Philip Rivers was nailed for 15 extra yards on an unsportsmanlike call when he argued against that call too vociferously with the officiating crew.

Those penalties pushed the Chargers back to the 30, and the drive ended at the 23 when Rivers was sacked and the Chargers had to settle for a Nick Novak 44-yard field goal. And at the end of the first half, the Chargers took the ball from their own 20 to the Titans' 20, only to see a 38-yard field goal attempt blocked.

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And then, there was San Diego's final desperation play, which ... well, here's the video and the official play-by-play. It tends to defy description.

(:02) (Shotgun) P.Rivers pass to D.Woodhead to TEN 44 for 13 yards. Lateral to E.Royal to TEN 33 for 11 yards. Lateral to L.McClain to TEN 46 for -13 yards. Lateral to P.Rivers to SD 45 for -9 yards. Lateral to K.Allen to SD 40 for -5 yards. Lateral to E.Royal to SD 35 for -5 yards. Lateral to K.Allen to SD 33 for -2 yards. Lateral to D.Woodhead to SD 33 for no gain. FUMBLES, RECOVERED by TEN-A.Verner at SD 29. 1-10-SD 43 Penalty on SD-P.Rivers, Illegally Kicking Ball, declined.

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