Philip Rivers completed all six of his passes for 85 yards and a touchdown and the Chargers converted two first-quarter turnovers into touchdowns in a 21-19 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
While the Rams starting offense under quarterback Jared Goff was limited to a 42-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein in his three possessions, backup Sean Mannion threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Josh Reynolds in the third quarter and directed the Rams on drives that ended with 21- and 57- yard field goals by Zuerlein in the second quarter.
Backup kicker Travis Coons kicked a 53-yard field goal with 13 minutes two seconds left in the fourth quarter, but missed a 33-field goal attempt with 7:50 remaining that would have given the Rams (2-1)the lead.
The game was the first NFL game between two Los Angeles teams since Nov. 13, 1994, when the Rams lost to the Raiders, 20-17, at Anaheim Stadium. The paid attendance was 58,561, the lowest among the Rams 11 preseason and regular-season games at the Coliseum since they returned to the stadium last year.
They drew at least 80,729 for each game at the Coliseum last year.
Rivers completed all four of his passes for 65 yards on the opening drive, including a 45-yard touchdown to Travis Benjamin.
The drive ended a streak of 18 consecutive possessions where the Chargers offense failed to score and 22 consecutive possessions it failed to score a touchdown dating back to the preseason opener Aug. 13.
The Rams drove to the Chargers 8-yard line on the ensuing possession when Goff was sacked by Joey Bosa for a 16-yard loss and fumbled. Melvin Ingram recovered the loose ball and ran 76 yards for a touchdown.
The Rams next possession ended after three plays when Goff’s deep pass was intercepted by Jason Verrett at the Chargers 46-yard line. The Chargers drove 54 yards on nine plays, with Melvin Gordon running the final two yards for the touchdown.
Gordon ran six times for 26 yards on the drive and Rivers completed both of his passes for 20 yards.
The Chargers (1-2) have scored touchdowns on all three possessions where Rivers played during the preseason.
“When he’s on the field, he’s a leader and he gets us in the right place, rights positions and we move the ball,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “Our first unit is not just Phil, but out first unit has moved the ball well this preseason.”
Rivers did not play in a 13-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at StubHub Center. Lynn said Rivers will not play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara and backup quarterback Kellen Clemens probably would not play. Clemens did not play against the Rams.
Cardale Jones replaced Rivers after two series and played until the fourth quarter, completing nine of 13 passes for 74 yards with one interception, but like in the Saints game, was unable to put any points on the board.
“I thought he took a step forward today,” Lynn said. “I wish that we had caught a couple more of those balls, but I thought he played better tonight.”
Mike Bercovici completed five of nine passes for 62 yards on the Chargers final two possessions.
“He had great command of the offense,” Lynn said. “I thought he finished the game well.”
Goff completed five of eight passes for 56 yards with an interception.
“There was obviously a couple I’d like back,” Goff said. “I felt like we moved the ball really well on that first drive and got all the way down there. Unfortunately, turned it over and they were able to take it the other way, but it’s all good stuff to learn from.
I think at the end of the day it’s good to have this stuff happen in the preseason and hopefully it can be avoided in the regular season.”
On the interception, Goff said “he felt someone coming down my throat a little bit and I have to stand in there and throw it.”
Mannion completed 16 of 29 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown. Dan Orlovsky completed one of three passes for eight yards on the Rams final possession.
The Rams had 327 yards of total offense to 326 for the Chargers and led 23-17 in first downs. The Chargers led in time of possession, 33:42-26:18.
The Rams played without running back Todd Gurley, their leading rusher in 2016, Tavon Austin, their second-leading receiver in 2016, and rookie Cooper Kupp, their leading receiver in preseason entering Saturday’s game.
“With a handful of those guys, there’s a lot of injuries that have taken place or little nicks here or there,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “We made a decision as a coaching staff what we felt like was best.”
The Rams were seeking to go 3-0 in the preseason for the first time since 2011 when they were 4-0 in the preseason and 2-14 in the regular season.
The Chargers avoided their first 0-3 start to a preseason since 1999 when they were 0-5 in the preseason and 8-8 in the regular season.
“It was a much better start than last week,” said Lynn, whose team was forced to punt after three plays in its opening possession against New Orleans, then allowed a 50-yard touchdown run by rookie running back Alvin Kamara on the Saints first play.
“Fortunately, we got off to a good start on the offense and defense. I think the first half we played efficient football and took care of the ball, execution was good. Still have a way to go with my reserves. we have to move the ball better and catch the ball and penalties almost killed us. But it’s a process and we’re working on it.”
— City News Service
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