Running back Melvin Gordon III. Photo credit: Mike Nowak

The Los Angeles Chargers’ attempt for a fourth-quarter comeback fell short for the second consecutive game in a 23-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans Sunday.

The Chargers (2-5) twice appeared to score a go-ahead touchdown in the final 39 seconds, but replays determined both times the ball carrier did not cross the goal line.

Their comeback hopes ended the third time they had the ball on the Titans’ 1-yard line in the final 39 seconds. A replay determined that Melvin Gordon fumbled. Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey recovered in the end zone.

The Chargers first appeared to take the lead when officials signaled a touchdown on an Austin Ekeler catch-and-run of a Philip Rivers’ pass.

However, a replay indicated he did not cross the goal line, giving the Chargers only a first down.

A false start penalty by Chargers left guard Dan Feeney pushed them back to the Titans’ 5-yard line. An official called Tennessee cornerback Malcolm Butler for pass interference in the end zone against Mike Williams, giving the Chargers another first down on the Titans’ 1-yard line.

Gordon appeared to score on the next play, but a replay again showed he didn’t cross the goal line. He fumbled the ball away on the next play.

The Chargers had cut the deficit to 23-20 with five minutes, nine seconds to play on Rivers’ 41-yard touchdown pass to Ekeler.

“Between the injuries and not finishing games, it’s been a tough seven games, you know, a tough start to the season,” Rivers said.

Tennessee ended a stretch of four losses in five games. The crowd at Nissan Stadium in Nashville was announced at 62,431.

Head coach Anthony Lynn said he was “lost for words right now.”

This was this fifth time in their seven games the Chargers did not score more than 20 points.

The Chargers are 0-5 in those games, including a 24-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday. Rivers threw two touchdown passes as an attempt to rally from a 24-point fourth-quarter deficit fell short.

The Chargers are tied for 23rd in the 32-team league in scoring, averaging 20 points per game. Scoring 30 points in both their victories boosted their average.

Their running game lagged again, rushing for 39 yards on 21 carries. It’s the third consecutive game they have rushed for 39 yards or less, a span coinciding with Gordon’s return to play. He failed to report to the team as he sought a contract extension.

Gordon rushed for 32 yards on 16 carries Sunday, the seventh consecutive game he has rushed for 42 yards or less dating back to last season. He caught three passes for minus-three yards, including a 1-yard touchdown pass from Rivers before halftime.

The score gave the Chargers a 10-3 lead.

The Chargers are off to their worst start through at least five games since 2015 when they began the season 2-8.

The loss was the Chargers’ fifth in their past six games since winning their opener. It’s their worst stretch of at least five games since the 2016 season. Their finish then resulted in the team firing head coach Mike McCoy.

Rivers completed 24 of 38 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns. He passed Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning to move into sixth place in passing yards with 56,770. Dan Marino sits in fifth with 61,361.

Rivers moved into seventh in passes with 7,250, passing Hall of Famer John Elway.

Rivers also had a 108.3 passer rating, making him the fifth player in NFL history to have 100 games with a passer rating of at least 100.

The Chargers took their only lead on Rivers 1-yard touchdown pass to Gordon on a 94-yard drive. It was the 11th time in their 60-season history they drove at least 94 yards for a touchdown. They did so three times last season.

– City News Service

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