Rivers’ 3 TDs lead Chargers past Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Philip Rivers threw two of his three touchdown passes in the second half and the final one brought the Los Angeles Chargers from behind for a 27-22 win over the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Both teams were winless coming into the game.
The Chargers’ winning score came after Los Angeles defensive end Melvin Ingram sacked and stripped New York quarterback Eli Manning to give his team the ball on the 11-yard line.
Three plays later, Rivers found running back Melvin Gordon in the end zone for the 10-yard touchdown.
The Giants (0-5) jumped out to a 9-0 first-quarter lead, which included their first points scored on offense in the opening quarter since a 22-yard field goal by Robbie Gould in the 2016 regular-season finale against Washington.
Running back Orleans Darkwa, who started in place of injured Paul Perkins, had a 23-yard touchdown run.
Before Darkwa’s score, the Giants got a safety when Chargers center Spencer Pulley snapped the ball before Rivers was ready. Rivers, who was at his 7-yard line, alertly batted the ball out of the back of the end zone for the safety.
The Giants’ running game, in fact, was a bright spot. They finished with 152 yards on 25 carries with the one touchdown.
“I thought there was some good and some bad, but more good,” Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said about the running game. “I thought we took a step in the run game. I thought we played physical. We needed a little bit more later in the game, but I thought our run game took a step forward today.”
Rookie Wayne Gallman, who finished with 11 carries for 57 yards, said the running backs felt good about where they were headed this week.
“Just practiced the run really hard this past week. We knew that we would be able to put in the work and you saw the result. We just have to continue to finish,” he said.
The Chargers (1-4) got on the board in the second quarter thanks in part to 20 penalty yards racked up by the Giants defense that included a 15-yard unsportsmanlike call against linebacker B.J. Goodson.
Rivers capped the Chargers’ eight-play, 77-yard scoring drive with a 6-yard pass to Gordon to cut the Giants’ lead to 9-7.
He then took advantage of another offside penalty against Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in the red zone to extend a 12-play, 49-yard scoring drive culminating in a 20-yard field goal by Nick Novak to give the Chargers a 10-9 lead at the half.
After a Rivers interception, the Giants marched 80 yards and Manning connected with receiver Roger Lewis on a 29-yard strike for a touchdown.
On their next possession, the Chargers responded with a 12-play, 92-yard scoring drive in which Rivers connected with tight end Hunter Henry on a 25-yard touchdown to make it 17-16 Los Angeles at the end of the third quarter.
The Giants answered with a 48-yard touchdown pass from Manning to receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to make it 22-17. However, the Giants were hit with a delay of game penalty when they tried to line up for the two-point conversion, and after the penalty, Manning’s pass to Beckham failed.
The Chargers made it 22-20 on a 31-yard field goal by Novak before taking the lead for good on the Rivers to Gordon 10-yard strike.
The Giants tried one last time to snatch the game from the jaws of defeat. On their final possession, Manning drove his offense to the Chargers’ 48, but his fourth-down pass intended for tight end Evan Engram was picked off by safety Tre Boston to seal the deal.
“That was big. That’s what you have to do as a defense,” Chargers nose tackle Damion Square said. “Great teams do that. When you play on a great defense, you find a way to do something like that to seal the game. Even when everyone is getting nervous that the same thing will happen again, someone on the field finds a way to make that play and he did.”
Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, who has seen his team come close to winning this season only to be thwarted at the last moment, lauded his team for its resilience and its fight throughout the second half when the lead changed hands four times.
“This is a very resilient team — I saw that in training camp, I saw that in OTAs,” Lynn said. “This is a high-character group. They don’t quit; they keep coming and coming ... I’m just so happy that we found a way to get one.”
The Giants lost four receivers to injuries, the most serious of which was Beckham, who suffered a broken left ankle as it twisted underneath him after making a catch late in the fourth quarter. Beckham had to be carted off the field.
Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall both suffered ankle injuries in the second quarter, and Dwayne Harris suffered a broken foot in the third quarter.
With the Giants’ season seemingly lost, McAdoo said the team is left with little choice but to keep at it to find that first win.
“You just keep working,” he said when asked where they go from here. “You look in the mirror. You learn a lot about yourself in times like these. So you’ve got to work for yourself and work for your teammates.
“We’re all pros — this is what we get paid to do. We get paid to win, just not compete. So we’ve got to find a way to win.”
NOTES: Chargers DE Joey Bosa’s first sack of the game was the first allowed by the Giants’ offensive line in 122 pass attempts by QB Eli Manning. Bosa, who came into the game with 2.5 sacks, had 2.0 in the game, both coming against Giants RT Bobby Hart. ... Giants CB Eli Apple was apparently benched for the team’s first three defensive series. Apple made his debut on defense on the Chargers’ fourth offensive series. ... Giants RB Orleans Darkwa’s 23-yard touchdown is the longest of his career. ... Chargers QB Philip Rivers passed Fran Tarkenton for 10th place on the career passing yards list. Rivers now has 47,198 passing yards. ... Hunter Henry became the sixth opposing tight end to score a touchdown against the Giants’ defense this season.