Rivers rallies Chargers to 33-28 victory over Lions
SAN DIEGO (AP) This is why the San Diego Chargers gave Philip Rivers an $84 million contract extension during training camp.
Down 21-3 less than halfway through the second quarter, Rivers helped rally the Chargers to 30 straight points for a riveting 33-28 victory against the Detroit Lions on Sunday in what could be their final home opener in San Diego.
Rivers overcame two interceptions, including a 31-yard return for a touchdown by Glover Quin, to complete 35 of 42 passes for 404 yards and two touchdowns.
The go-ahead touchdown came on Rivers' 13-yard pass to tight end Ladarius Green early in the fourth quarter. It tied Rivers with Hall of Famer Dan Fouts for the franchise record, 254.
The Chargers' future in San Diego is uncertain, with ownership looking to bolt to the Los Angeles area, perhaps as soon as 2016.
This one was really in doubt, until Rivers and the Chargers got straightened out.
''We couldn't be much worse in that first half. We just couldn't get going and when we did we threw it to them,'' Rivers said.
It was 21-10 at halftime, and Rivers had just thrown an interception in the end zone.
''I was just so mad with the interception that I didn't know what the score was,'' he said.
''We felt like we had them on the ropes and they were not going to stop us unless we just didn't execute,'' Rivers said. ''We were able to keep it rolling.''
The Chargers have gotten younger overall, but adding key veterans such as tackle Joe Barksdale has helped.
''No one blinked being down at the half,'' Barksdale said.
''Down 21-3, that can be a dagger,'' second-year center Chris Watt said. ''But we stuck together, which is huge, and played them really tough.''
Sacked twice in the first half, Rivers was unscathed in the second.
''We had some pressure on him the first half quite a few times,'' Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said. ''The second half we didn't get to him much. There were a lot of quick screens on the outside that we didn't run down.''
Green was subbing for Antonio Gates, who's suspended without pay for four games for testing positive for PEDs. Keenan Allen had 15 catches - tying the club record set by Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow in 1984 - for 166 yards.
The Chargers trailed 21-3 after Matthew Stafford threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Eric Ebron midway through the second quarter. San Diego's comeback started when Danny Woodhead scored on a 9-yard run 5:02 before halftime. Rivers was picked off by Darius Slay in the end zone just before the break.
But the second half was all San Diego. Rivers threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson and rookie Josh Lambo kicked a 25-yard field goal to close to one point. The go-ahead TD pass to Green came with 11:49 to play.
''When you have fun like we did today it didn't feel like a job,'' Allen said. ''He probably looked at me more'' without Gates.
''When you come out in the third quarter, you can't turn the ball over twice and not score any points,'' said Stafford, who was 19 of 30 for 246 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions. ''That's tough.''
The Lions dominated the first half.
Rookie Ameer Abdullah scored easily on his second run, a 24-yarder. Quin's interception return on a poor decision by Rivers and Ebron's touchdown catch made it look as if it was going to be a blowout.
Chargers rookie Melvin Gordon appeared to score on a powerful 21-yard run with a great second effort, but it was ruled that he was down by contact.
Woodhead also scored on a 1-yard run with 2:33 left in the game for a 33-21 lead.
Chargers rookie Kyle Emanuel, a fifth-round draft pick, had a sack and an interception.
NOTES: Chargers RG D.J. Fluker was taken off on a cart with an ankle injury late in the third quarter. ... Barksdale was shaken up in the fourth quarter but was OK. ... Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew was shaken up but Caldwell declined to elaborate.
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