It’s just the jolt scuffling Chargers needed
That’s when beleaguered coach Norv Turner, criticized all season by outsiders because of his team’s many blunders, may have saved the Chargers’ season with what was described by his players as an emotional speech.
“I think that was the turning point of the game, not what we did on the field,’’ said tight end Antonio Gates, whose 48-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter put the Chargers ahead in a game they would win, 33-25.
“He came out and expressed how he feels about this team, expressed how he believes in this team. We took that as a challenge. It meant something to him,’’ Gates said.
The Chargers (3-5) snapped their three-game losing streak. The Titans (5-3) lost quarterback Vince Young to a sprained left ankle late in the game after losing wide receiver Kenny Britt to a right hamstring injury in the first quarter.
Gates was late coming out of the locker room after halftime because he was getting his injured foot re-taped. On the go-ahead score, Gates got behind linebacker Will Witherspoon to haul in his ninth touchdown of the season, good for a 24-19 lead.
“They were the most complete team we’ve played,’’ Turner said. “That’s what makes this win that much more special to me.’’
Philip Rivers had his fifth 300-yard game of the season, tying his career high from last year. He completed 27 of 36 passes for 305 yards, with two TDs and one interception. Rivers also threw a 13-yard scoring pass to Darren Sproles with 6:51 left. However, the Chargers botched the point after, which would have given them a 9-point lead.
Young was hurt while scrambling with less than six minutes to play and had to be helped off the field. Kerry Collins moved the Titans to the Chargers’ 15 before Chris Johnson dropped a pass on fourth and 2 with 30 seconds to go. “I make it nine out of 10 times,’’ Johnson said.
Young had played well after returning from a sprained left knee and ankle that kept him out of a win against Philadelphia a week earlier. Young completed 10 of 21 passes for 253 yards and two scores. His 71-yard TD pass to a wide-open Nate Washington pulled the Titans to 27-25 with 11:43 left. The conversion pass to Johnson failed.
The Chargers trailed, 19-7, late in the second quarter before getting three straight scores.
Rookie Ryan Mathews scored on a 7-yard run 1:55 before halftime and Kris Brown kicked a 34-yard field goal midway through the third quarter to cut Tennessee’s advantage to 19-17. Gates’s TD catch gave San Diego its first lead since the first quarter.