Not handing ball to Gordon big mistake for Chargers' McCoy

DENVER (AP) Mike McCoy refused to second-guess himself for not putting the ball in Melvin Gordon's hands on four snaps from the Denver 2 in one of the worst decisions in Week 8.

We'll do the second-guessing for him.

Gordon leads the league with 10 touchdowns. He was the first running back to top 100 yards against Denver this season. He averaged 4.8 yards a carry.

So, with the Chargers trailing the Broncos 27-19 with less than three minutes remaining Sunday, McCoy had Philip Rivers throw four times.

In McCoy's defense, cornerbacks Aqib Talib (back) and Kayvon Webster (hamstring) were on the sideline along with linebacker Brandon Marshall (hamstring).

In McCoy's indictment, pass rusher DeMarcus Ware was back from a broken arm to lead a group that picked off Rivers three times, sacked him four times, broke up 13 of his passes and hit him 17 times.

Rivers was hurried by T.J. Ward on first down and threw the ball away.

He was hurried by Ware on second down and threw it away.

Understandably jumpy, he overthrew Antonio Gates on third down.

The Broncos sent an all-out blitz on fourth down and Lorenzo Doss broke up a pass intended for tight end Hunter Henry.

''After the fact, you go, `Shoot, maybe we should have run it once or twice down there,'' Rivers said.

Not so, McCoy.

''We called the plays we did. We didn't finish them. We didn't score,'' McCoy said. ''We called what we did. It didn't work. I'm not going to second-guess it now.''

Instead of a chance at evening the score and maybe going on to win the game and evening their record, the Chargers limped home at 3-5, all but buried in the AFC West, where the Broncos and Raiders are 6-2 and the Chiefs 5-2.

Two stars called out the NFL officials Sunday, and only one of them had a legitimate beef.

Cam Newton said he's had it with the officials not protecting him and ''taking the fun out of the game for me.''

Josh Norman complained about one official who kept throwing flags on him even though he kept committing penalties.

In Charlotte, Newton, the league's reigning MVP, said he simply doesn't get the same calls that other QBs in the league get.

''Enough is enough,'' Newton said after Carolina's 30-20 win over Arizona. ''I don't think there's a person that can go through what I go through and keep their head, you know what I'm saying? Hits to the head, that's one thing, but when you're not protected in the pocket, that's another thing. It became the story of my life ever since I came in (to the league). It's always, `Oh, we missed that, I'm sorry.'''

Newton said he plans to talk to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about why he is treated differently than other QBs.

He said the ''breaking point'' for him came in the third quarter when Arizona defensive tackle Calais Campbell came crashing into Newton's knees , reminiscent of the hit that sidelined Tom Brady in 2008.

Newton was slow to get up, but Campbell was not penalized.

''I could have torn my ACL,'' Newton fumed.

In London, Norman was miffed after Washington's 27-27 tie with Cincinnati about all the times he kept getting called for ''hands to the face'' while covering Bengals star receiver A.J. Green.

''Who's official 88?'' Norman asked.

That would be field judge Brad Freeman.

''He sucked,'' Norman said. ''I'm just going to be honest with you. I'm going to be straight-forward. He was terrible and I feel like he should be reprimanded.''

It's Norman who should be chided, suggested NBC football analyst Tony Dungy.

''All (Freeman) does is watch the wide receivers and defensive backs and those were good calls. Those were not phantom calls,'' Dungy said. ''Josh Norman has to understand if you put your hands in the face or you grab jerseys, it's going to get called.''

Rodney Harrison suggested Norman should have been thankful Freeman didn't throw three or four more flags on Norman, ''and if he does not change his technique, it's going to continue to happen.''

In New Orleans, safety Earl Thomas was flagged for giving too much love to the officials. He embraced side judge Alex Kemp in a bear hug after his 34-yard fumble return for a touchdown in Seattle's 25-20 loss to the Saints, drawing a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

That one may have been silly, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was serious when he complained to the officials about two pick plays that weren't whistled, one of which came on a touchdown.

''These are the plays that challenge the officials,'' Carroll said, ''and they were challenged today.''

And the best call of the weekend had to be Jack Del Rio's decision to go for it on fourth-and-3 from the Tampa Bay 41 with 1:55 left in overtime.

Derek Carr hit Seth Roberts over the middle and he slipped out of a sandwich tackle and raced into the end zone for the 30-24 win that sets up a showdown with Denver next weekend pitting two 6-2 teams for the AFC West lead.

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AP Sports Writers Steve Reed and Brett Martel contributed.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton .

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