The San Diego Chargers erased a 21-point first half deficit to beat the San Francisco 49ers 38-35 in overtime Saturday night at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara.
Quarterback Philip Rivers delivered one of the grittiest performances of his career, and amassed 356 yards and four touchdowns, three of which came in the second half, even though it has been reported by ESPN that Rivers may be dealing with a bulging disk in his back.
“Give Philip a lot of credit for the way he played and the way he responded after some adversity early in the game,” Head Coach Mike McCoy said in the post-game press conference. “He’s going to miss a throw, he’s going to throw another interception a time in his career, but he’s one of the best in the business and we’re very fortunate to have him here.”
It wasn’t all peachy, though, for the veteran quarterback.
Rivers’ two interceptions—one of which that went for a touchdown—in the first half helped contribute to a big hole the Chargers dug themselves.
The run defense was the other leading factor that helped the 49ers jump out to a 28-7 lead at halftime;San Francisco ended the night with 355 yards on the ground compared to 98 for the Chargers.
However, things started to click for the Bolts in the second half.
Rivers finally got the offense together a little less than six minutes left in the third quarter, and found long-time tight end Antonio Gates for a one-yard score.
On the very next possession the Chargers got a gift when defensive end Corey Liuget recovered a fumble in the end-zone for a touchdown on a fumble that was forced by defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Ricardo Mathews.
The Chargers defense shored up holding the 49ers to one touchdown in the second half, and helped set-up an 11-yard touchdown to wide receiver Malcolm Floyd to tie the game at 35, with just 29 seconds left in the game.
San Francisco got the ball first in overtime, but safety Eric Weddle forced a fumble on its second play, and it was recovered by Chargers defensive lineman Sean Lissemore.
Rivers and running back Ronnie Brown then got kicker Nick Novak in range for a game-winning 40-yard field goal.
Even though it was no secret that Rivers was not at full health he was able to mount a legendary comeback for Chargers history, and garnered much respect from some of his teammates.
“He’s the best,” linebacker Manti Teo said post-game to Chargers.com. “He’s one of the best to play the game and we’re so grateful and thankful that we have him on our team to lead us and to do the things he does.”
The Chargers are very much alive in the playoff hunt with the win, and depending on what certain team’s do on Sunday they may have a chance to control their own destiny in the final game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday.
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